April: Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Oral Cancer Awareness

THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY estimates that there will be over 54,000 new oral cancer cases just this year, in 2024. In recent decades, the survival rate of these cancers has risen considerably, and early detection plays a critical role in these statistics. That's why we are using Oral Cancer Awareness month to educate our patients about the symptoms and risk factors of oral cancer.

Built-In Risk Factors

There are unavoidable risk factors: men are twice as prone to oral cancer as women and it affects people over the age of 45 much more. Preventative care and early detection are especially important for people in these categories.

Risk Factors We Can Avoid

Other risk factors can be controlled. By far the biggest risk factor is any kind of tobacco use. As much as 85% of oral cancer is linked to tobacco! Frequent and heavy alcohol consumption is another risk factor that can be avoided. Other risk factors include too much sun exposure (which can lead to lip cancer), HPV, and not prioritizing good oral hygiene habits.

Signs of Oral Cancer

  • Persistent lip or mouth sores that don't heal
  • Odd lumps on the lip, mouth, throat, or neck
  • Strange thickness in the cheek
  • Numbness in the tongue or mouth
  • Red or white patches inside the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • A sensation like something is stuck in the throat
  • Chronic bad breath (halitosis)

The dentist will often spot the signs before anyone else!

Your Dentist Plays a Crucial Role

Oral cancer is frequently detected in its early stages during routine dental checkups. Beyond looking for cavities and gum issues, dentists play a key role in screening for oral cancer, highlighting another important reason to keep up with your dental appointments. Regular visits to the dentist are not only beneficial for maintaining oral health but also serve as a preventive measure for your general well-being. So please do not forget to schedule your routine dental check-up appointments. The more you know the more you grow!

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