30 Jun Are You at Risk for Oral Cancer?
Talking about oral cancer is not easy. Yet, we must. Oral cancer is on the rise. This year, about 51,540 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer. Often found in stages 3 or 4, it affects even young individuals, both male and female. To raise awareness for the prevention, early detection, and treatment of oral cancer, we need to have a conversation. Are you at risk for oral cancer?
Oral cancer can affect any area of the oral cavity including mouth, throat, lips, and tongue. And while tobacco use increases the risk for cancer, drinking, genetics, sun-damage, and other non-specific factors can contribute to the disease. There is evidence which links the human papillomavirus (HPV) to oral cancer. It is estimated 70% of the 10,000 newly diagnosed cases of Oropharyngeal Cancer (base of tongue, tonsils, and throat) is associated with HPV, the most common STD in the U.S. The good news is there are steps you can take to lower your risk of oral cancer, as well as how to diagnose it in its earliest stage.
Signs of Oral Cancer
As shared by the Mayo Clinic and Centers for Disease Control, signs of mouth cancer may include:
- A sore that doesn’t heal
- A sore that bleeds
- Loose teeth
- Poorly fitting dentures
- Tongue pain
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Difficult or painful chewing
- Difficult or painful swallowing
- A sore throat
- Swollen Lymph Nodes
- Pain When Swallowing
- A growth, lump or thickening of the skin or lining of your mouth
While these issues are not necessarily an indication of cancer, it is important to see your healthcare provider to identify the cause to initiate treatment.
Lowering Your Risk of Oral Cancer
Quitting tobacco and avoiding or limiting alcohol intake, will lower your risk of oral cancer. Additional steps you can take include:
Eat a Healthy Diet – Load your plate with summer favorites including broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, blueberries, strawberries, and grapes. Choose whole-grain bread and pasta over refined grains.
Limit Sun Exposure – Take appropriate measures when outdoors. Wear an SPF lip balm and reapply often to prevent UV damage. Apply sunscreen, slap on a hat, and know when it’s time to head to the shade.
Wear Fitted Dentures – Wearing properly fitting dentures, reduces the risk of irritation, rubbing, and tearing of the gums that can be invaded by bacteria, potentially increasing the risk for mouth and gum cancer.
Care for Your Mouth – With 700 species of bacteria in your mouth, adopting a good dental care routine is critical to your overall health. Remember the ADA Daily 4: Brush, Rinse, Floss, Chew. See your dentist every 6 months for cleaning and checkup.
Safe Sex – Reduce your risk of getting HPV by practicing safe sex and speak with your children about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, HPV and the link to oral cancer.
Annual oral cancer screening – Choose to make oral cancer screening a regular part of your annual comprehensive dental exams. The screening is a visual exam with the aid of certain devices. One of the newest devices to aid dentists in identifying abnormalities in the mouth is the Oral I.D.™ This non-invasive device looks like a small flashlight. Using a fluorescence technology with a special light, the Oral I.D. can help visualize changes in the oral cavity that may not be visible to the naked eye or under a traditional white light. A two-minute pain-free procedure, the Oral I.D. oral cancer screening can be conducted at the same time as your bi-annual visit.
Oral cancer is not rare, and it affects a broad audience beyond someone who smokes. With a mission to providing the best oral care to our patients, Imperial Dental Center wants to ensure you are informed so you can take care of your mouth for long-term health.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation, cleaning, and oral cancer screening.
Dr. Dragana Angelova
Imperial Dental Center
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