April 24, 2017
You take your dental health seriously. You brush and floss your teeth daily to prevent tooth decay and gum disease while maintaining your preventive dental appointments. However, you could be overlooking one vital aspect to your oral and overall health—an oral cancer screening. Although oral cancer is not widely discussed, more than 49,000 Americans will be diagnosed with an oral oropharyngeal cancer this year. Unfortunately, it will also result in 9,750 deaths. With April being Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we strive to raise awareness about the importance of regular screenings to detect the cancer early. As your dentist in Enterprise, Dr. Schaffeld offers oral cancer screenings at each preventive appointment.
Dangers of Oral Cancer
All too often, oral cancer goes undiagnosed until it has metastasized to other areas of the body or reached advanced stages because there are currently no guidelines in place for routine screenings. As a result, it falls onto the patient and the dentist to undergo regularly screenings.
Many are not aware of the signs or symptoms of the cancer. Suspicious lesions, tenderness, or loose teeth can go untreated due to lack of information. This often results in late diagnosis. Unfortunately, late diagnosis is the leading cause of a low 5-year survival rate. It is estimated that 50% of those with oral cancer will not live past 5 years after diagnosed. However, with early detection, the 5-year survival rate increases significantly.
Spot the Signs of Oral Cancer
Although anyone can develop oral cancer, tobacco users have an increased risk. In fact, the Mouth Cancer Foundation reports that 90% of those with the cancer are tobacco users. In addition, heavy alcohol use further increases the risk for the development of oral cancer.
No matter if you use tobacco or not, you need to learn the signs and symptoms of the cancer for early detection. Although many symptoms go unnoticed, common signs include sores, swelling, lumps, and thick patches in and around the mouth a throat. Lesions that are red or white can develop. It is not uncommon to have numbness, pain, or tenderness in the mouth, as well as loose teeth that have no apparent cause. Many report to experience a feeling of something stuck in the throat, lingering sore throat, and difficulty moving the jaw.
Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
Often, the early stages of oral cancer produce no symptoms at all, which is why it is important to have an oral cancer screening at each preventive appointment. As your family dentist in Enterprise, Dr. Schaffeld offers a noninvasive screening to detect cancerous and precancerous cells early. If an area of concern is discovered, a biopsy will be ordered to test the tissue. More often than not, the biopsy will come back fine; however, it is better to be safe.
The risks of undiagnosed oral cancer are quite severe. You need a regular screening at each preventive appointment. Our caring staff will give you the peace of mind you need with a comprehensive evaluation. Contact our office today to schedule your screening.
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