Every hour someone in North America dies of oral cancer, the sixth most common diagnosed form of the disease. The five year survival rate is about 57 percent, and oral cancer is one of the few cancers whose survival rate has not improved. This grim statistic may make you think that oral cancer is a particularly deadly form, when in fact the high death rate has more to do with how late in its development oral cancer is detected. Routine screening is the key to early detection and survival.
Who Is At Risk For Oral Cancer?
Anyone can develop oral cancer, but some people are at a higher risk. Males are most at risk of developing oral cancer. Males run two times the risk as females do of developing oral cancer. That may be because many of the top causes of oral cancer, such as smoking, are more widely practiced by men than women. As for age, people who are middle-aged and older are most likely to develop the disease.
Oral Cancer Screening By Your Dentist
Your dentist should screen for oral cancer during routine dental examinations at least twice a year. A manual and visual examination is necessary. He or she feels for lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, cheeks and oral cavity, and thoroughly examines the soft tissues in your mouth, specifically looking for any sores or discolored tissues.
What Happens If Oral Cancer Is Detected?
If during your dental examination your dentist finds anything suspicious they will recommend that you have a biopsy performed of that area. The biopsy of the lesion will be used to confirm the diagnosis of cancer. If it is confirmed that you do indeed have oral cancer you will probably be referred to an oral surgeon for removal of the tumors.
Oral Cancer Conclusion
As in any disease, an early diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference. Survival rates greatly increase the earlier oral cancer is discovered and treated. So be vigilant and, even if you do not have any warning signs. To schedule an appointment, contact Maple Avenue Family Dentistry today at (401) 237-4038.