In 2019, about 53,000 people will be affected by oral cancer. Of those, over 10,500 will pass away from the disease. Detecting oral cancer in East Longmeadow may not be as difficult as you think though. You may not have known, but every time you visit your dentist for your semi-annual checkup and cleaning, they perform a screening that could help you spot and treat the cancer early. When detected early, the survival rate is 65%. Once the cancer has started to spread, it drops to 39%. This Oral Cancer Awareness Month, ease your mind with an oral cancer screening from your dentist. Read on to learn about signs of the disease and what your screening will look like.
What Are Some Common Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
Understanding the common symptoms of oral cancer can increase your chances of early detection. Between visits to your dentist, you can be checking for these signs at home:
- Red or white sores and patches in your mouth.
- Wounds on your lips or mouth that don’t heal within two weeks.
- Lumps or abnormalities on your lips, cheeks, neck, or throat.
- Difficulty swallowing or moving your jaw or tongue.
- Change in voice or speech.
- Ear or jaw pain.
Sometimes, these signs could be a result of a different medical condition that isn’t cancer, which is why it’s important to seek out a trusted professional if you’re experiencing any of these. When you visit your dentist during your semi-annual checkup or screening, they may ask how long or often you’ve been experiencing these in order to find out the cause.
What Will Your Oral Cancer Screening Look Like?
The purpose of your East Longmeadow dentist conducting an oral cancer screening during your routine visit is to try to identify signs of cancer before they progress and become harder to treat. When they’re able to successfully do this, they can lower the number of people who die from the disease.
So, what will your screening look like? Your dentist will first check the inside of your mouth for any red or white sores. With gloves on, they’ll feel your oral tissue and inspect for any lumps or abnormalities. If you have any removable dentures, they’ll ask you to take them out so they can better inspect your mouth. If your dentist detects any signs of oral cancer or problem areas, they may refer you for a biopsy or request additional testing to help establish a diagnosis.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk of Oral Cancer?
While there’s no proven way to prevent cancer, there are certain actions you can take to reduce your risk including:
- Reducing your risk of human papillomavirus (HPV) by receiving a vaccination.
- Stopping the use of all tobacco products and staying away from secondhand smoke.
- Monitoring your alcohol consumption.
- Make healthy diet choices by eating more fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin A.
- Establish a good oral hygiene routine.
Talking with your dentist at your routine visit about any concerns can be a great tool to catch oral cancer symptoms early. Being aware of risk factors and symptoms can help you keep tabs on your health at home as well. This Oral Cancer Awareness Month, there’s no better time to schedule your screening so you can ease your mind.
About the Author
Dr. Keith Hollinger has been serving his community and making healthy smiles for over 2 decades. He looks forward to getting to know each of his patients so he can make them feel comfortable and provide them with the tools they need to keep their smile bright. He’s dedicated to decreasing oral cancer-related deaths by providing thorough screenings during each of his patient’s semi-annual checkups and cleanings. For any questions or to schedule an appointment, visit his website or contact 413-525-6821.