April is mostly associated with spring weather and fool’s jokes, but did you know it is also a month that has been set aside to raise awareness for oral cancer? That’s right — and during Oral Cancer Awareness Month in 2019, we are taking the opportunity to talk about the importance of early detection through regular screenings. Keep reading to find out more about why it matters and how to go about talking to your friends and family about getting oral cancer screenings this month.
Oral cancer is that which affects the lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, neck, or surrounding oral structures. Estimates from the Oral Cancer Foundation say this disease kills one person in the United States per hour, every day of the year — and that some 40,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2019 alone.
While oral cancer has long been associated with tobacco and heavy drinking, more young and otherwise healthy people are being affected with the spread of the HPV-16 virus. Young men are particularly at-risk of developing oral cancer as a result of HPV.
Fortunately, the chances of successfully treating oral cancer rise dramatically the earlier it is diagnosed. If you notice any dramatic change in your oral health or if a lump or bump appears that doesn’t go away, contact your dentist or doctor right away for an appointment.
Most adults should undergo an oral cancer screening at the dentist’s office annually. During this screening, your dentist will use sight and gentle touch to find any troublesome areas that could indicate precancerous/cancerous cells. Lumps, bumps, red areas, asymmetries, and other irregularities can all indicate oral cancer.
If something suspicious is located during the screening, your dentist can provide expert guidance to help ensure you receive the follow-up care you need. A lesion that persists longer than 2 weeks, for example, may need a biopsy right away.
Spreading the word about oral cancer and the need for early detection could literally save someone’s life — so don’t hesitate to talk about it. Ask your friends and loved ones if they have ever had an oral cancer screening, or when their last one was, and let them know it’s a simple exam that can be completed at the end of their regular checkup and cleaning at the dentist’s. And, of course, schedule your own if it has been longer than a year! Regular preventive screenings can make a huge difference for treating oral cancer.
Tarpon Shores Dental is a comprehensive dentistry practice focusing on the unique dental needs of patients 50 years and older. To learn more about their services — including oral cancer screenings — or to book a visit with this Sarasota dentist, do not hesitate to get in touch by calling them at (941) 256-7559 or reaching out online.