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Get Checked! April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April 10, 2014

Get Checked! April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month, a time when the dental community rallies together to fight against a serious disease. While some may think oral cancer is rare, it will cause over 8,000 deaths each year, or about one person per hour every hour of the day. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation more than 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal (throat) cancer this year alone.

Public awareness about this serious disease and its risk factors is crucial to saving lives. Dentists are in a unique position to perform head and neck exams and oral screenings every day that can help us identify abnormalities in the mouth at the earliest stage.

Are you at risk?

The fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients are young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals. That’s why it is more important than ever for all adults to have regular oral cancer screenings. Knowing the risks can also help you make educated decisions about your health. There are several risk factors for oral cancer, including:

Recognize the symptoms

Make sure to talk to your dentist immediately if you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one.

The symptoms of oral cancer include:

Early detection is key

A thorough oral cancer screening takes less than five minutes. When found early, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 percent survival rate. Unfortunately, most oral cancers — particularly types caused by HPV — are discovered at later stages of development resulting in an unnecessarily high death rate.

Dentists can be a first line of defense in identifying abnormalities in the mouth, which could be signs of oral cancer. Many people do not realize that oral cancer screenings are a routine part of a more extensive exam performed during routine visits to the dentist. So please make sure to visit your dentist regularly. Get checked, and stay a step ahead of oral cancer.