If you think that oral cancer screening isn't important, think again. Each year, more than 45,000 Americans will be diagnosed with some form of oral or pharyngeal cancer, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation, and some reports show that almost half of them won't live more than five years. Oral cancer is a serious, life-threatening condition, and it is one that Chehalis dentist Michael A. White, DDS takes seriously.
Oral cancer can be treated if it is caught early enough. The problem, however, is that it can be very difficult to catch, especially by someone who has not received formal training. Oral cancer frequently presents no symptoms in the early stages, making it unlikely that the average person would have any idea they had it until it had already spread throughout the body.
This is why regular visits to Dr. White in Chehalis are so crucial - they significantly increase the chances that the dentist will find any incidences of oral cancer in their earliest stages, when treatment is most promising. Oral cancer does not diagnose oral cancer, but it can let Dr. White know if you are at an increased risk and need further diagnostic testing.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
People who use tobacco, drink alcohol, have poor nutrition, have HPV, and who have been exposed to radiation are at an increased risk for oral cancer, along with men, African Americans and anyone over the age of 45. Wearing ill-fitting dentures and taking immunosuppressive drugs can increase your risk as well.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
While oral cancer does not always present with symptoms, the most common symptoms you may find include: a lump in the mouth, red or white patches in the mouth, spots that don't heel on their own, and numbness or pain when chewing.
Reducing Your Risk
If you are at an increased risk for oral cancer, you may be able to reduce your risk by making a few lifestyle changes. Avoid tobacco and drink alcohol only in moderation. Remove and thoroughly clean your dentures every night if you wear them. Limit sun exposure, and eat a well-balanced diet. Most importantly, however, visit your Chehalis dentist, Dr. White, for routine oral cancer screenings. Call and schedule your appointment today.