The month of April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and the team at Vero VIP Implants & Periodontics wants to make sure that patients have access to the information they need about this frighteningly common type of cancer. Cancers of the mouth and throat cause almost one death per hour for each day of the entire year. One of the reasons that oral cancers have such a high death rate is that they are often found only after they are in their later stages. Overall, 40% of the patients who have just been diagnosed with oral cancer live less than five years after they’re diagnosed. Those who do survive may have severe issues that cause permanent impairment.
Can Oral Cancer Be Treated?
While the survival rates are scary to know, there is hopeful news: if oral cancers are found early, treatment can be very successful. For this reason, it’s especially vital that you have regular oral cancer exams. Your dental care provider knows the signs to look for and can give you the peace of mind that you need if you’re worried about oral cancer. If early signs of cancer are found, it’s possible to begin treatment right away to get the very best outcome possible.
Know the Signs of Oral Cancer: What to Watch Out For
While regular oral cancer exams are extremely important in discovering oral cancer early enough, those exams aren’t the only thing you should be doing. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer so that you can see your dentistry care provider in between regular appointments for help if needed. The symptoms of oral cancer can include:
- A sore in your mouth that is very slow to heal
- Irritation in your mouth that doesn’t resolve on its own
- Patches (can be either red or white in color) on your lips or inside your mouth
- Persistent numbness within your mouth or in your lips
- New lumps in your mouth or on your lips
- Rough or crusted over areas in your mouth or on your lips
- Sudden difficulty in using your mouth for routine things like eating or talking
- A change in teeth alignment
Many of these symptoms could also be something minor — but if that’s the case, the symptoms will resolve on their own within a few weeks. If that doesn’t happen, you should contact your dentist right away to let them know about your symptoms. Your dentist is likely to have you come in for an exam promptly. If it’s oral cancer, time is of the essence when it comes to diagnosis and treatment.
Are You at Increased Risk For Oral Cancer?
Some things may increase your risk for oral cancer, and it’s important to be aware of these as some of them can be controlled. The patients who are most at risk for oral cancer are those who are heavy consumers of alcohol and heavy smokers. While oral cancer risk does appear to increase over the age of 50, being younger doesn’t mean that you’re impervious. It can occur in patients who are only in their 20s as well.
Another risk factor for oral cancer is the HPV virus. HPV virus can occur in anyone, and in fact it’s quite common today. Be aware of the specific symptoms of HPV-caused oropharyngeal cancer, including:
- A lump in your neck
- Chronic sore throat
- Pain while swallowing
- Increased difficulty in swallowing
- Swelling of your tonsils
Schedule Your Oral Cancer Exam Now
Now that you’ve armed yourself with some essential info about oral cancer, it’s time for the next step. With the month of April being Oral Cancer Awareness Month, this is the ideal time to schedule an oral cancer exam if you’ve never done so before or if you’re overdue for your next exam. If you’re ready to schedule your exam, contact Vero Implants & Periodontics today. The Vero Implants & Periodontics team is here to help you with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of all types of periodontal disease. We look forward to seeing you soon.