April is Oral Cancer Awareness month, and Fireweed Family Dentistry wants to help fight, and bring awareness about this serious disease. The American Cancer Society has estimated that over 48,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cavity or oropharyngeal (throat) cancer, and that 9,500 people will die of these cancers.
Are you at risk?
There are many kinds of risk factors for getting oral cancers, some things we can’t change like sex and race. Preventing and stopping high risk behaviors can prevent the costly and disfiguring treatment if diagnosed. Knowing the risks can also help you make educated decisions about your health.
Some of the risk factors include:
- Tobacco use
- Heavy alcohol use
- Certain strains of HPV (human papillomavirus)
- Poor oral hygiene
- Ongoing irritation from poorly fitting dentures
- Marijuana use
Signs and symptoms
If you or a loved one has noticed any of these symptoms and it hasn’t gone away in 2 weeks, make sure you talk with your Anchorage dentist immediately:
- A hard or thick spot or lump
- Sores in the mouth that bleed easily and do not heal
- A white or reddish patch
- A roughened or crusted area
- Tongue, jaw, or throat pain
- Difficulty or pain while chewing, or swallowing
Early Detection is key!
If oral cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the 5-year survival rate is 83%. A 5-year survival rate refers to the amount of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer has been diagnosed, and of course, many people live much longer than 5 years.
Regular dental checkups that include an exam of the entire mouth are important in finding oral and oropharyngeal cancers (and pre-cancers) early. Dr. Maloney and Marcia the hygienist at Fireweed Family Dentistry are trained to screen for oral cancers, and to help identify risk factors during your routine checkups, just another reason to visit your local Anchorage dentist twice a year! If you have any questions, or have noticed any signs or symptoms call us at 907-279-6000.