April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a good time to review what you can do to reduce your risk of developing this disease as well as taking steps to catch it early, when treated is significantly more successful.
This year, health experts estimated that around 54,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer in the United States. Tobacco is the leading cause of oral and other forms of cancer. Quitting it or avoid it completely can go a long way toward reducing your risk of this disease.
At a time when we are being encouraged to get vaccines for a different disease, it’s also important to learn about the vaccine for HPV. For 99 percent of people, HPV has no noticeable effects after they contract it, but for 1 percent, it can lead to cancer. Vaccines have been developed to fight HPV. Talk to your doctor to find out if you or someone you love is eligible for this vaccine.
Visit Your Dentist
When you come here for a routine cleaning and exam, we also perform an oral cancer screening. We are training to identify signs of this disease. While we can’t diagnose it, we can advise you if we see something suspicious so you can make an appointment with your doctor to determine if testing is needed.
A lot can happen between dental visits, which means it’s also good to learn some of the symptoms of oral cancer for yourself. Watch out for these symptoms;
- Sore that have not healed within 14 days.
- red, white, or black discoloration of the soft tissues in your mouth
- Lumps in the soft tissue, particularly near the tongue.
- A sore under a denture, which does not heal after an adjustment to your denture
- A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, that has been there for at least two weeks.
- Feeling like you have something stuck in your throat that does not go away
These symptoms are a reason to contact your doctor.