It’s no secret that oral cancer is a deadly disease. That’s why it’s so important to get screened regularly for oral cancer-even if you don’t think you’re at risk. Most major health insurance plans cover oral cancer screenings, so there’s no reason not to get one.
What is Oral Cancer?
According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, an American dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. Early detection is key with oral cancer, as it often has a high success rate of treatment if found early on. Though both sexes can get oral cancer, men are more susceptible, especially those over the age of 50.
Oral cancer is hard to detect early on as it often doesn’t have any symptoms. That’s why regular screenings are so essential. During a screening, a dentist or doctor looks for signs of oral cancer such as sores in the mouth, changes in texture or discoloration of tissue, and lumps or bumps that don’t go away. If they find something suspicious, they may recommend further testing like an x-ray or biopsy.
Why Oral Cancer Screenings Are Important
Early detection is key with oral cancer, as it often has a high success rate of treatment if found early on. Even if you don’t think you’re at risk for oral cancer, it’s important to be screened regularly.
If you smoke or use any kind of tobacco products, it’s even more important to be screened regularly for oral cancer. Tobacco use is one of the most significant risk factors for developing oral cancer, and early detection is essential in order to treat it successfully.
As actor Michael Douglas said, he did have some responsibility for his throat cancer due to drinking and smoking. It is true that smoking is the number one risk factor for oral cancer. Oral cancers are about six times more prevalent in alcohol users than in non-drinkers. The risk of developing cancer rises significantly when drinking alcohol and using tobacco products. A rapidly growing risk factor is infection with the HPV virus. Studies are ongoing to examine the link between HPV and oral cancers.
Since oral cancer often has no early symptoms, it’s important to get screened regularly – especially if you belong to a high-risk group.
Speak to a Dentist About Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screening can detect early symptoms of oral cancer before it becomes more serious or even life-threatening. Early detection through an oral cancer screening means that treatment can be started sooner, and the chance of a successful outcome is much higher. With a quick, painless exam, your dentist can look for signs of mouth cancer, such as red or white patches in your mouth, soreness that won’t heal, lumps or swellings, and changes in your bite.
If you’re over the age of 40, have a family history of oral cancer, use tobacco products, drink alcohol excessively, or have had significant exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV), you’re at a higher risk for developing oral cancer. Even if you don’t have any of these risk factors, it’s important to get screened regularly.
If it has been a while since your last comprehensive dental exam, please contact Cross Dentistry at (301) 662-0300 or reach out to us online to schedule an appointment.