Important Facts about Oral Cancer
Updated in April 2017
Mouth Sores May Be a Sign of Oral Cancer
Mouth sores that do not heal themselves within 2 weeks may be a sign of something abnormal happening in your mouth. If you have a sore on your cheeks, lips, gums, tongue, or throat that doesn’t heal itself within 14 days, you are advised to contact your dentist in Richmond, VA and have an exam performed.
Oral Cancer Has a High Death Rate
Historically, oral cancer is known for having a high death rate. Often people assume this is due to the aggressive nature of oral cancer but in reality, it is because many times oral cancer is simply not detected early enough. This year it is expected that almost 46,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer and that only 57% of them will still be alive in 5 years. This is why it is so important for everyone (not just smokers) to receive an annual oral cancer screening.
Oral Cancer is Increasingly Occurring in Younger, Non-Smoking Patients
Traditionally oral cancer only affected individuals who were smokers or heavy drinkers. Over time research has proven that oral cancer has been positively linked to HPV-16. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, leading to an increase in oral cancer cases amongst non-smokers and younger individuals. Even those who don’t smoke or drink heavily need to receive an annual oral cancer screening.
Modern Oral Cancer Screenings Are Quick and Painless
You may remember oral cancer screenings in the past that involved swishing with a bitter liquid for several minutes. Their foul taste kept many people from receiving oral cancer screenings as normal, but thankfully there is now a much easier way. Modern oral cancer screenings, such as the VELscope, use a blue ultraviolet light to identify abnormal cells in the mouth, cheeks, and tongue. These screenings are quick, effective, and completely painless.
All Adults Should Receive an Annual Oral Cancer Screening
When it comes to oral cancer, it’s better to be safe than sorry. At River Run Dental, our dentists recommend an annual oral cancer screening for every patient over the age of 18. Many insurance companies will cover this service but even if they don’t, it is typically a very economical procedure and can be done in conjunction with your regular 6-month hygiene visit.
Although April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we want to stress the importance of preventative oral hygiene all year long. Early detection is the key to a successful battle against oral cancer and should be taken seriously by everyone!