Dental associations urge the public to get regular oral cancer screenings, and to self-check between examinations–early detection saves lives!
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., April 2, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Every hour, 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year, someone dies of oral or oropharyngeal cancer (cancers of the mouth and upper throat) in the US. However, when oral cancer is detected and treated early, treatment-related health problems are reduced, and survival rates may increase.
This year an estimated 51,550 new cases of oral and oropharyngeal cancers will be diagnosed in the US. Of those individuals, 40 percent will not survive longer than five years, and many who do survive suffer long-term problems, such as severe facial disfigurement or difficulties with eating and speaking. The death rate associated with oral and oropharyngeal cancers remains particularly high because the cancers routinely are discovered late in their development.
This April, as the nation observes the 19th Annual Oral Cancer Awareness Month, the Academy of General Dentistry, the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, the American Academy of Oral Medicine, the American Academy of Periodontology, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association are again joining the non-profit Oral Cancer Foundation in its campaign to raise awareness of oral cancer screenings and the importance of early detection.
Regular oral cancer examinations performed by your oral health professional remain the best method for detecting oral cancer in its early stages.
Be Mindful of Symptoms: Public Urged to “Check Your Mouth”
For the first time, the efforts of the Foundation and the six dental associations cited above will be bolstered by the Oral Cancer Foundation’s Check Your Mouth™ individual self-discovery initiative (checkyourmouth.org). Check Your Mouth encourages the public to regularly self-check for signs and symptoms of oral cancer between dental visits, and to see a dental professional if they do not improve or disappear after two-three weeks.
Signs and symptoms of oral cancer caused by tobacco usage and/or excessive alcohol usage may include one or more of the following:
- Any sore or ulceration that does not heal within 14 days.
- A red, white, or black discoloration of the soft tissues of the mouth.
- Any abnormality that bleeds easily when touched.
- A lump or hard spot in the tissue, usually border of the tongue.
- Tissue raised above that which surrounds it; a growth.
- A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, that does not heal.
- A lump or thickening that develops in the mouth.
- A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, that has been there for at least two weeks.
- All these symptoms have the commonality of being persistent and not resolving.
Signs and symptoms of HPV-caused oropharyngeal cancer persist longer than two-three weeks and may include one or more of the following:
- Hoarseness or sore throat that does not resolve.
- A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, which has been there for at least two weeks.
- Constant coughing that does not resolve.
- Difficulty swallowing; a sensation that food is getting caught in your throat.
- An earache on one side (unilateral) that persists for more than a few days.
- All of these symptoms have the commonality of being persistent and not resolving.
Always call a dentist right away if there are any immediate concerns.
Research has identified a number of factors that may contribute to the development of oral and oropharyngeal cancers. Historically, those at an especially high risk of developing oral cancer have been heavy drinkers and smokers older than age 50, but today the cancer also is occurring more frequently in younger, nonsmoking individuals due to HPV16, the virus most commonly associated with cervical cancer.
The sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV16) is related to the increasing incidence of oropharyngeal cancer (most commonly occurring in the tonsils or the base of the tongue). Approximately 99 percent of people who develop an HPV oral infection will clear the virus on their own. In approximately 1 percent of individuals the immune system will not clear the virus, and it can lay dormant for decades before potentially causing a cancer. This occurs mostly in a non-smoking population composed of men four to one over women.
For those who have never had an oral cancer examination, there is no better time to schedule one than during Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April. When you do, be sure to ask that this examination be made a routine part of all of your future dental check-ups. For a list of local dental professionals who are participating in this year’s event by offering free oral cancer screenings, visit the Oral Cancer Foundation’s website.
About Oral Cancer Awareness Month
Each April, several of the nation’s top dental associations join together with the non-profit Oral Cancer Foundation to raise awareness for oral and oropharyngeal cancers. This is an important reminder to the public that when these cancers are detected and treated early, mortality and treatment-related health problems are reduced. For more information visit the Oral Cancer Foundation website at www.oralcancer.org.
Sponsors include: the Academy of General Dentistry (www.agd.org), the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology (www.aaomp.org), the American Academy of Oral Medicine (aaom.com), the American Academy of Periodontology (www.perio.org), the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (MyOMS.org) and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (adha.org).
SOURCE Oral Cancer Foundation