Though just as serious and potentially fatal as other malignancies, oral cancer is sometimes overlooked. However, April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.
As the month comes to an end, the team of experienced, professional, and compassionate oral care providers at Mountain View Dental urge current and prospective patients to take a proactive stance in raising their own and others’ awareness of this dreaded illness.
The Prevalence of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer produces some startling statistics. The disease strikes roughly 50,000 people each year. Of those, approximately 10,000 will lose their lives. Researchers have found that this type of cancer impacts two times more men than women. That said, advancements in treatments and early diagnosis have increased five-year survival rates to 57 percent.
Alcohol and Tobacco Usage
Scientists maintain that excessive alcohol and tobacco use are the most significant risk factors. Moreover, many people use these products in combination. Research has concluded that, when performed in tandem, these habits could increase one’s chances by 15 times more than merely indulging in one or the other product.
Typically, those over 40 are at the greatest risk. Unfortunately, however, recent data has shown that incidents in younger people are appreciably increasing.
A History of Infection With HPV16
A variant of the human papillomavirus, known in medical circles as HPV16, is believed to share a strong correlation to oral cancer development. Typically, HPV16 is transmitted through sexual contact.
Overuse of Tanning Beds or Excessive Sunlight Exposure
Spending too much time in the sun or inside tanning beds has been linked to increased incidents of lip malignancies.
Researchers also regret to inform the public that almost 25 percent of all persons diagnosed carried none of the preceding risk factors, leaving said occurrences tied to unknown origins.
Numerous cases do not produce symptoms until the disease has progressed to moderate or later stages. However, individuals are firmly implored to consult with an oral care provider if they experience physical manifestations such as:
Sores or Lumps
These wounds typically appear on the lip, on the gums, or inside the mouth, and do not heal, can be painful, and could increase in size.
Some afflicted subjects develop discernible red or white patches appearing on the gums, cheeks, tongue, and even tonsils.
Discomfort or numbness might occur in the gums, lips, or teeth and intensify with actions like speaking or eating.
In addition to the preceding manifestations, stricken individuals might experience a lump in their throat, unusual bleeding from the gums or lips, difficulty executing the jaw movements needed to speak and consume foods, the emergence of loose teeth or poorly fitting dentures, and voice changes.
Unfortunately, not all incidents can be prevented. However, one crucial facet of oral cancer awareness is the importance of early detection. Identifying a malignancy as early as possible renders treatment easier and significantly increases one’s chances of making a full recovery.
That said, early detection is a two-tiered process involving a patient and their dental care provider. Individuals are continually urged to look out for any visible or palpable changes occurring in and around their oral cavities. Should any anomalies be detected, said subjects are urged to schedule an immediate consultation with an experienced dental professional.
In addition to keeping one’s vigilance up, dental patients are urged to maintain proper oral hygiene, quit smoking, receive routine checkups every six months, moderate alcohol intake, limit natural sunlight exposure, and avoid tanning beds.
We here at Mountain View Dental pride ourselves on providing patients with a comfortable and friendly atmosphere. To learn more about us or to schedule a consultation, please visit our website or call us at 385-324-3557.