April: Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

The month of April has been dedicated oral cancer awareness month. This deadly form of cancer claims ONE life an hour in the US alone and has a 50% mortality rate five years beyond diagnosis. With statistics like these, it’s no wonder that medical professionals and researchers are dedicated to raising awareness.

Unfortunately, oral cancers are often not detected early because the symptoms can be painless, and many people are not aware of the disease. But the good news is that survival rate is high when oral cancers are found in the first stages. Awareness and early detection are key!

The Symptoms:

  • White or red patches inside the mouth or on the lips
  • Swelling, lumps, bumps, rough spots or eroded areas on the lips or inside the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Unexplained numbness or loss of feeling in mouth, face or neck
  • Persistent sores in the mouth that do not heal within 14 days
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue

The Risk Factors:

  • Age: The disease usually occurs over the age of 40
  • Gender: Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancers
  • Lifestyle: Tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco, and heavy alcohol use
  • Family or personal history: Those who have had oral cancer previously are at an increased risk of developing another oral cancer
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection

One of the best ways you can celebrate oral cancer awareness month is by visiting your trusted dentist for an oral cancer screening. During these appointments, you’ll receive a gentle examination looking for the common warning signs of this disease. By receiving regular screenings during your preventive dentistry appointments, you may significantly reduce your chances for oral cancer.

As your dentist, we consider ourselves a partner in your overall health care, helping you to enjoy the best quality of life every day. 

Sources: 

  1. Cancer.org
  2. Oral Cancer Foundation
  3. Cancer.gov