Oral Cancer Screening
Oral or pharyngeal (throat) cancer can be fatal diseases. Fortunately, they don’t have to be. The key—as with so many other types of cancer—is early detection. At Aesthetic Dentistry of South Miami, we perform oral cancer screenings during your regular dental checkups in order to find signs and symptoms as early as possible.
Oral Cancer Facts and Figures
The statistics associated with oral cancer are rather astounding. In any given year, more than 48,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer. Of those thousands, only a bit more than half will be alive in five years. The disease, which kills one person every hour round-the-clock, is responsible for over 9,500 deaths annually. These fatality numbers are high not because oral cancer is difficult to detect or diagnose, but because it is so often discovered at a later stage of development.
Oral Cancer’s Risk Factors
While not having a risk factor is no guarantee that a person will not get oral cancer (in fact, many oral cancer patients have no known risk factors) there are some factors and behaviors that can increase the risk of getting the disease. Of course, some risk factors are unchangeable, such as gender and age; men are more likely to have oral cancer than women, and most cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 55.
However, there are some behaviors that if changed can reduce the risk or oral cancer.
For instance, tobacco use of any kind—cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco—is a significant risk factor for oral and pharyngeal cancer. Likewise, excessive consumption of alcohol is a risk, and when alcohol is combined with tobacco use the risk is even greater.
Cancers of the lips are more common in people who spend time in the sun. Sunscreen and lip balm with UV protection are extremely important in South Florida. HPV infection can also increase the risk of oral cancer, as can poor nutrition from a diet low in fruits and vegetables as well as a weakened immune system.
Oral Cancer Screening in South Miami
During an oral cancer screening at Aesthetic Dentistry of South Miami, we are looking for specific visual and tactile signs that may warn of the disease. In between checkups, you should be on the lookout for these signs and symptoms, too. They include:
- A bleeding sore in your mouth that will not heal
- A lump on top of or within any soft tissue in your mouth or on your lips
- Areas of red or white lesions anywhere in your mouth, on your tongue or on your lips
- Feeling as if something is stuck in your throat
- A change in the way your teeth come together or in the way dentures fit
- Persistent sore throat or hoarseness
- Ear pain but no sign of infection
- Difficult chewing, swallowing or speaking
Call our office immediately if you notice any of these signs. An early oral cancer screening can save a life.