Close to 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 8,000 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 40,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years.
Often oral cancer is only discovered when the cancer has metastasized to another location, most likely the lymph nodes of the neck. Prognosis at this stage of discovery is significantly worse than when it is caught in a localized intra oral area. Besides the metastasis, at these later stages, the primary tumor has had time to invade deep into local structures. Oral cancer is particularly dangerous because in its early stages it may not be noticed by the patient, as it can frequently prosper without producing pain or symptoms they might readily recognize.
What are risk factors for oral cancer?
It is likely that the accumulative damage from factors such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and persistent viral infections such as HPV, are the real culprits. There are also other environmental and nutritional factors which can play a role.
How can oral cancer be detected?
One of the real dangers of this cancer is that in its early stages, it can go unnoticed. It can be painless, and little in the way of physical changes may be obvious. The good news is however, that your dentist or doctor can, in many cases, see or feel the precursor tissue changes or the actual cancer while it is still very small, or in its earliest stages. It may appear as a white or red patch of tissue in the mouth, or a small indurated ulcer which looks like a common canker sore. Because there are so many benign tissue changes that occur normally in your mouth, and some things as simple as a bite on the inside of your cheek may mimic the look of a dangerous tissue change, it is important to have any sore or discolored area of your mouth, which does not heal within 14 days, looked at by a professional. Other symptoms include; a lump or mass which can be felt inside the mouth or neck, pain or difficulty in swallowing, speaking, or chewing, any wart like masses, hoarseness which lasts for a long time, or any numbness in the oral/facial region.
It is important to see a dentist every six months for a checkup and visual exam of the soft tissues. If there is an abnormality, it can be detected and treatment initiated as soon as possible.
Oral Cancer Awareness
April is oral cancer awareness month in which both the dental and medical industries work together to educate the public on detection, prevention and treatment for oral cancer worldwide. One foundation which helps drive this movement is the Oral Cancer Awareness Foundation or OrCA. OrCA is a non-profit agency which is dedicated to uniting dentists and medical professionals to help spread the awareness of the dangers of oral cancer.
At Quail Valley Family Dental our cosmetic dentist, family dentist and implant dentist strive to provide pain free and gentle dental care for our patients who are seeking services in pediatric dentistry, periodontics, endodontics or cosmetic dentistry.
Original Source: Enzine Articles