Oral cancer (cancers of the mouth, tongue, tonsils & throat) is on the rise again. For the 5th year in a row, the rate of occurrence of oral cancer has increased, with an estimated 40,000 new cases expected to be diagnosed in the US this year alone. Oral cancer is no longer considered a rare cancer.
What’s the dealio with this (as my daughter always says)…
What causes oral cancer? Some known causes include smoking, chewing tobacco & HPV which is transmitted through oral sex. BTW, oral sex is quickly becoming the leading cause of oral cancer- for more info on how oral sex increases risk of oral cancer, click HERE.
What’s the prognosis? As with any cancer, prognosis depends upon the advancement of disease at the time of diagnosis & treatment. But when found at early stages, oral cancers have an 80% – 90% rate of five year survival. When detected at later stages, this rate drops to about 45%.
Are there any screenings for oral cancer? YES!!! Just like a mammogram or colonoscopy, oral cancer screenings can detect cancerous changes BEFORE symptoms are present. Since oral cancer can be difficult for an individual to detect on his or her own, ask your dentist for an oral cancer screening every time you visit. He or she can more easily see and/or feel changes in the mouth, head and neck. And PLEASE contact your dentist or physician immediately if you or someone you know has:
- A sore or lesion in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks.
- A lump or thickening in the cheek.
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the cheek or mouth.
- A sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue.
- Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth.
- Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable.
- Hoarseness that persists.
(Source: Oral Cancer Foundation)
*** Many, many thanks to my very favorite dentist Dr. Dennis Abbott of Dental Oncology Professionals of North Texas (@dentaloncology) for helping raise awareness of the importance of oral cancer screenings. YOU rock Dr. Abbott! ***