April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, so we’re going to talk about some of the key facts of this devastating disease. Getting older means there are significant changes to your health, including your oral health. Sometimes they’re normal changes, and other times, these changes are a significant health risk. Oral cancer is one of those health risks, and most people put off screenings. Here at Dobson Ranch Dental Care, we know just what to look for, but we want you to know as well. Here are some key facts about oral cancer that you may not be aware of.
1. Screenings Are Routine
Despite what you might think, oral cancer screenings are a routine part of our services. Have you ever wondered why we feel around your tongue and jaw? It’s because we’re looking for signs that something is out of place or shouldn’t be there. We also look for abnormal sores or decay that indicates something more serious than periodontal disease. If we suspect something more, we’ll let you know. We might even do a more thorough examination that requires more tools and time, but we’ll walk you through the entire process. This quick screening makes it even more important to see your dentist on a regular basis, and let us know if something doesn’t feel right.
2. Oral Cancer Can Develop Anywhere in Your Mouth
Mouth cancer is defined as cancer that happens anywhere in the oral cavity. It doesn’t always appear as a sore or lump in your mouth, but can also spout up in the larynx, throat, sinuses, or pharynx. These body parts are essential and give you the ability to breathe, talk, smile, eat, and chew. Oral cancer can even start in the jaw bone and travel to other areas of your body. This is why oral cancer screenings are so important. It’s not uncommon for people to avoid a comprehensive exam, but an early diagnosis is the key to saving your life.
3. Oral Cancer Has a High Death Rate
Unfortunately, because people wait for diagnosis and treatment, oral cancer has a much higher death rate than other cancers, such as cervical cancer or Hodgkin’s lymphoma. According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, more than 54,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, and roughly 13,500 people die from this type of cancer. Furthermore, only slightly more than half of those 54,000 will be alive in five years. Some oral cancers also tend not to cause any issues or disruptions to everyday life, allowing cancer cells to spread and grow tumors elsewhere.
4. There Is a Link to HPV16
Historically, oral cancer was found only to affect those 40 and older. Today, new research is finding that oral cancers are also occurring in younger individuals, especially those who’ve been exposed to the human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16). This virus has been linked to several other aggressive cancers in the cervix, vagina, and sex organs. Doctors and researchers are finding that this sexually transmitted virus is the leading cause of oral cancer in non-smoking oral cancer patients.
5. Treatment Is Multi-Prong
The treatment for oral cancer usually involves surgeons, oncologists, your dentist, and nutritionists. Most people start on radiation or chemotherapy treatment before undergoing surgery. Unlike other cancers, chemotherapy is generally not the only course of action. Typically, the goal is to reduce the tumor’s size and weaken the cancer cells, making them more susceptible to radiation. In any case, your team at Biltmore Commons will work with your cancer team to help ease your treatment and produce the best possible outcome.
Don’t Wait for Your Screening
An oral cancer screening is just as important as any other cancer screening. If you’re over the age of 40, then it’s time to talk to our team at Dobson Ranch Dental Care. We proudly help residents throughout Mesa, AZ, and we’re here for you! We also provide periodontal treatment, cosmetic density services, and professional teeth whitening. Our mission is to make you feel great about your smile and even better about your oral health. Schedule your appointment today when you call (480) 838-8558.