April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know men are four times more likely than women to be diagnosed with oral cancer? Many people know that smoking and tobacco use are major risk factors for oral cancer, however, the fastest growing cause of oral cancer is HPV or human papillomavirus.
While the number of people expected to be diagnosed with oral and throat cancers is concerning, the good news is that ensuring early detection is as easy as attending your routine dental exams here at The Center for Specialized Dentistry. What you may not realize is that oral cancer screening is part of your regular exam. Dr. Louis and Caitlin can see and feel precancerous tissue changes and early cancer and can diagnose them during the curable stages. And, something to remember is when oral cancer is detected early, the survival rate is an encouraging 80% to 90%.
During your visit, the oral cancer screening takes no more than three – four minutes to complete. It consists of a verbal, visual, and physical examination and includes the following:
- A thorough review of your oral health history, as well as your overall health history, which includes questions that help assess your level of risk for mouth cancer
- A visual inspection of all the areas of your mouth and throat in an effort to locate any abnormalities, such as sores and red or white patches; this inspection includes the lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, floor of the mouth, roof of the mouth, and far-back section of your tongue
Now, in between your regular visits to our practice you should perform self-examinations, and be sure to keep an eye out for the following signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of oral cancer:
- Red or white patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue
- Swelling or thickening of areas inside the mouth
- Unexplained bleeding
- Sores on the face, neck, or mouth that do not heal
- Chronic sore throat
- A change in the way your dentures fit
- Suspicious lumps found by palpating your mouth, jaw, and neck
- Dramatic weight loss
Here are some great tips to prevent oral cancer. These are measures you can take to minimize your risk.
- Avoid smoking and the use of all tobacco products.
- Limit or refrain from drinking alcohol.
- Avoid overexposure to the sun, and use sunblock on your skin and lips.
- Practice safe sex.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
Oral cancer is very important, and we want you to be in the know. If you have any questions give us a call and we can set up an oral cancer screening with our new VELscope Vx and give you the peace of mind you deserve. 410.820.9599
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