When you visit your dentist for regular check-ups, your dentist can screen for oral cancer.
Oral cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in the oral cavity – including the lips, tongue, mouth and throat. Oral cancer can develop in the mouth (called oral cavity cancer) or in the back of the mouth at the top of the throat in an area referred to as the oropharynx (called oropharyngeal cancer).
How common is oral cancer?
This year, approximately 49,750 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer. That is cancers of the throat, tonsils and back of the tongue.
What are the signs of oral cancer?
Sores anywhere inside your mouth (i.e. lips, cheeks, gums or tongue) that don’t heal by themselves within a few weeks, could signal something abnormal. Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to have an examination.
Can a person die from oral cancer?
Oral cancer can be aggressive, however; it can have a higher death rate simply because it is not detected early enough. Of those diagnosed with oral cancer each year, only about 50% will still be alive in five years. Everyone – whether you are a smoker or not – should be screened yearly.
If I am young and don’t smoke, am I still at risk of oral cancer?
While smokers or heavy drinkers are at risk of oral cancer, research shows that it is now linked to HPV – a sexually transmitted disease – and becoming more prevalent in non-smokers and younger people. In fact, according to oralcancer.org, 25 percent of oral cancer patients have no known risk factors.
Is a screening painful?
Oral cancer screenings have come a long way. Dentists often use a VELscope, with blue ultraviolet light to identify abnormal cells in the mouth, cheeks, and tongue. The good news? It’s quick, effective and painless.
Get screened every year.
At Hylan Dental, your overall health is important us, so we recommend a yearly screening if you are older than 18 years of age. Check with your insurance company to see if they cover it, and make screenings a part of your regular dental check-ups.
Early detection is the key when it comes to oral cancer. Don’t delay… say, “Ahhhh…” and get your screening today!
About Dr. Hylan
Dr. Brad Hylan has a remarkable zest for life, and is the first to admit that he loves a good adventure and is always willing to try new things. As a dentist, his mission is to make a difference in his patient’s lives, their overall health and of course… their smiles!