We all know the four letter words that we aren’t supposed to say, right? Those words that make people look up and cringe when they come out of our mouths! There’s a reason we try to shield our kids’ ears from bad language: it’s ugly! There is one bad word that we avoid saying for a completely different reason: cancer.
No one likes to think about cancer or the fact that it could strike anyone in our lives at any time. Cancer has become a bad word because when we say it, it means someone has it. As a result, our culture here in Houston, TX, tends to be afraid of things like cancer screenings. We tell ourselves that we would rather not know.
The problem is that the only way to have a chance against cancer is to get an early screening. We have to face our fears and find out! This is especially true with oral cancer screenings. Just as with all other cancers, the key to survival is early detection.
Oral Cancer is Deadly
People often want to dismiss oral cancer as a not-so-serious cancer because it seems so small compared to things like lung or brain cancer. Here’s the bad news: oral cancer is deadly. The survival rates are better than some other cancers, but the fact remains that 8,000+ people die of oral cancer every year.
If we can detect oral cancer early and begin treatment right away, your survival rate is very high, but if you ignore that sore or spot in your mouth for years on end, we may not be able to do enough to save your life.
It’s Not Just Tobacco Users
Oral cancer is often associated with tobacco use because we have had that fact drilled into us since childhood: tobacco leads to cancer. The vast majority of oral cancer patients have used tobacco, and many are males over the age of 50, but that is not the only demographic affected.
Patients with HPV are becoming a growing trend in oral cancer diagnoses. We also see patients who don’t protect their lips against the sun and those who drink alcohol.
Technology Makes Screening Easy
Oral cancer used to be difficult to detect. Patients wouldn’t notice a problem until the cancer had progressed into Stage III or IV. Dentist and doctors had to rely on the naked eye to see anything unusual. Again, by the time they noticed a problem, the cancer had become a very serious concern.
New screening technology makes the entire process easier! We use OrallD’s fluorescence technology to detect precancerous cells, cancer, and any other abnormal lesions. OrallD uses a special blue light that highlights abnormal cells in the tissues of your mouth. If we were to find anything, we could easily take a biopsy and get you results right away so that treatment could begin as soon as possible.
Stage I or II Detection Saves Lives
As we said earlier, early detection saves lives. Research shows that oral cancer, when detected in the first two stages, has an 80-90% survival rate. However, that survival rate drops by half to 45% when you look at the survival rate for Stages III and IV cancer. The difference between the two survival rates rests on one thing: detection.
We recommend screenings at least once each year to make sure that you are always aware of what is going on in your mouth!
It’s Better to Know and Fight than to Ignore and Lose
As we said earlier, we know that it is tempting to ignore the signs and hope to avoid the worst case scenario, but it is always better to know. The sooner you know, the sooner you can begin to fight and win. Ignoring the problem only makes you more vulnerable to losing the battle.
Make Your Appointment for a Screening Today!
Don’t spend another day wondering. Contact our office today to set up your routine cleaning and exam, and let us know you would like an oral cancer screening! We can help you decide how often you should have a screening based on your history and habits. Call today, and let’s get started!