What you need to know
Did you know the death rate associated with Oral Cancer is particularly high, not because it’s difficult to diagnose, rather because symptoms can often be ignored or dismissed by the patient? In some cases, by the time oral cancer is diagnosed, it may have already metastasized to another location, most likely the lymph nodes of the neck. The prognosis at this stage of discovery is much worse then if it’d been discovered in a localized intra-oral area.
Who’s at risk?
Men & women over 40 with lifestyle factors (such as: tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption and/or long-term exposure to the sun) are at the highest risk of developing oral cancer. However in recent years more cases of oral cancer are being reported among young people with no contributing lifestyle factors. Research has revealed that contracting the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), particularly version 16, is conclusively linked to an increase in oral cancer among today’s youth. HPV16 is the same virus that is the causative agent (along with several other versions), in more then 90% of all cervical cancers. Some researchers argue that HPV16 has displaced tobacco as the primary cause of Oral Cancer.
Common Signs & Symptoms:
- A mouth sore that does not heal
- A white and/or red patch of tissue inside your mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- A lump or mass in your mouth or neck
- Hoarseness that lasts for a long period
- Pain or numbness in your oral/facial region
- Pain in the ear of long duration
- A change in your voice
- Unexplained bleeding in your mouth
- Loose or painful teeth
- A denture that no longer fits well.
- Pain or difficulty moving your tongue and/or jaw
How to Reduce Your Risk?
- Recognize if you have lifestyle factors that may increase your risk (tobacco, alcohol, sun or unsafe sex)
- Practice good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing regularly)
- Request a comprehensive oral cancer screening from your Dentist at least once/year (Note: At Great Lakes Dental, Dr. Jennifer Thomm performs a comprehensive oral cancer screening at every appointment)
- Conduct a self-exam (using a mouth mirror, available at most pharmacies) at least 3-4 times/year
- Increase your consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables
- Get regular exercise
If you’d like more information about Oral Cancer (or to book your screening), CLICK HERE to schedule your appointment with Dr. Jennifer Thomm.