Each year, more than 50,000 people in North America are diagnosed with oral or throat cancer. Oral cancer has the highest death rate when compared to other common cancers such as cervical cancer, lymphoma, thyroid cancer and skin cancers. The unfortunate fact about oral cancer is that the reason it is so deadly is because it is often diagnosed too late. However, early detection of oral cancer typically leads to successful treatment, with up to an 80% survival rate. Advanced stage oral cancer can lead to the cancer spreading to other parts of the body, usually the lymph nodes and neck.
Oral cancer can be painless at its early stages, so how do patients become aware of its presence? If you attend your regular six-month dental exams, you can breathe easier. That's because your routine dental checkups include a quick and painless oral cancer screening from a professional. During your screening, we will look for oral cancer symptoms on your tongue, lips, gums and surrounding tissues in your mouth. These may include areas of discoloration, lumps or changes in your oral tissues. Always let us know if you experience the following signs of oral cancer in between checkups:
- A mouth sore that doesn't go away after 2 weeks
- Red or white patches
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness in mouth or lips
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking
- A change in the way your teeth fit together
At Park Slope Dental Arts, we also make sure our patients understand their specific risk factor for oral cancer. If you use tobacco products, consume excessive amounts of alcohol, get excessive sun exposure, or have a history of HPV, we may choose to monitor you more closely. Oral cancer is also more common in men than women and it tends to occur in people over the age of 40.
Do you tend to skip your routine dental checkup? You may be neglecting a life-saving early detection of oral cancer. Schedule your appointment today - we welcome the opportunity to care for your smile at Park Slope Dental Arts.