Oral Cancer Awareness Month
So you’ve had your yearly Pap smear, mammogram, or prostate screening done. And you’ve even finally made that appointment for the dreaded colonoscopy. Think you’ve covered all the bases? Think again.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 100 people in the US alone are diagnosed everyday with oral cancer. While early stage oral cancer is highly treatable, most are only discovered in late stages where the mortality rate is high. Sadly this is not because it is difficult to diagnose but primarily because people are not being screened. This is yet another important reason to visit your dentist regularly.
Dentist and hygienists are trained to look for signs of oral cancer. They are your first line of defense against this disease. Early stage oral cancer may not be detected by an individual because it often causes no obvious symptoms or discomfort. The primary predictors of oral cancer are tobacco and alcohol use. A second, more recently identified, source is exposure to the HPV-16 virus also known as the human papilloma virus. This is the same virus that is responsible for the majority of cervical cancer in women. (For more info about this http://oralcancerfoundation.org/hpv/index.htm)
While the rate of oral cancer has increased yearly over the last five years, early diagnosis is key. If discovered while the cancer is localized, the rate of survival is 80-90%. If the cancer has metastasized (spread) the prognosis is much worse.
If you or someone you love hasn’t been to the dentist for a while, make that phone call today and schedule an appointment for a checkup. It may be the most important phone call you ever make.