Did you know the average American sees their dentist more often than their physician? Dental practices have become the first line of defense for catching oral cancer early. With Dr. Whitlock and his team, your health is our primary focus.
The Bad News
Last year 115 people were diagnosed with oral cancer every day. Even more disturbing is the reality that one person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. When discovered in later stages, oral cancer survival rates are below 50%.
The Good News
Oral cancer can be diagnosed early with a regular screening from your dental professional. When caught in its earliest stages, the survival rates for oral cancer stand at about 80% to 90%.
Catching It Early
Because oral cancer is a pathologic process, cancer signs may not be noticeable during early stages. That’s why it’s critically important to have a regular oral cancer exam performed by a dental professional.
Although symptoms may not show up early on, any noticeable abnormality in the tongue, gums, mouth or surrounding area should be evaluated by a health professional as soon as possible. Not all the warning signs listed below means you have oral cancer, but here are some common symptoms:
• red or white patches
• a sore or irritation that remains
• pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
• a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
• difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving tongue or jaw
• a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
Causes of Oral Cancer
Research shows that smokers, tobacco users and excessive alcohol drinkers older than 50 are the most at risk group. The sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) has also been associated with cancers of the part of the throat at the back of the mouth.
Your Regular Oral Cancer Exam
Your regular oral cancer exam is a painless experience. Dr. Whitlock looks for any potential abnormalities while feeling your face, glands and neck for unusual bumps. In addition to the visual examination, we use special tools to spot any abnormal signs or lesions not visible to the naked eye.
Rest assured that we will provide an oral cancer screening as a part of your dental visit. However, if you have potential symptoms causing concern, please feel free to contact us in between your regularly scheduled visits.