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Protect Against Oral Cancer This April!

 

Some of the most widely discussed forms of cancer don’t hold a candle to the fatality rate of oral cancer. In five years roughly half of people diagnosed with oral cancer will be dead, and there are several reasons for that. The most important ones are that most of us don’t know what it is or what to watch out for.

Dental exams at Precise Dental Of Houston always include an oral cancer screening, but we only see you twice a year at best. The other 363 days of the year it’s up to you to know what signs could indicate oral cancer because only through fast diagnosis can we prevent its deadly effects.

April is oral cancer awareness month and we want to take the chance to teach you about oral cancer, its risk factors, and what you can do to prevent it.

Oral Cancer: Why Is It So Deadly?

A five-year mortality rate of over 50 percent puts oral cancer in the top ten most deadly cancers in the world. While it’s far less common than some other forms of cancer that doesn’t make it any less dangerous – if you’re diagnosed with it there’s a good chance it can claim your life.

Oral cancer diagnosed early is much less likely to kill, but that’s the catch: it usually isn’t caught until it has already metastasized into other parts of the body. It’s perfectly reasonable to have oral cancer without a single physical symptom, but that’s where knowing your body comes in – even when you can’t see it there can still be signs.

We recommend performing a monthly check for oral cancer. Do a visual inspection of all the soft tissue in your mouth (don’t forget to check under your tongue), and keep an eye out for any of the following signs:

  • White, red, or speckled spots
  • Raised spots that are bumpy, rashes, or crusted
  • Sores that bleed easily and last more than two weeks
  • Ulcerous (indented) spots
  • Bleeding in the mouth without an obvious origin
  • Swelling in the gums
  • Sores on the lips that last more than two weeks

Those physical symptoms are usually a sign that oral cancer is a bit advanced. Many patients never see a single physical sign! You should be sure to keep a close watch out for things you can’t see because these sensation can clue you in to a problem that needs to be investigated.

  • Numbness, tingling, or a loss of sensation in your mouth, throat, or face
  • A feeling that something is caught in your throat
  • Hoarseness when speaking or trouble speaking at all
  • A persistent sore throat
  • Trouble chewing and swallowing
  • Numbness in the tongue
  • A change in your bite or the fit of your dentures
  • Pain in your ear(s) without hearing loss

Any of these signs should prompt you to make an appointment at our Houston office right away!

Who Gets Oral Cancer?

If there’s one bit of good news to share about oral cancer it’s that the majority of cases happen as a result of lifestyle choices and not things beyond your control. While it’s still possible to develop it without directly contributing to the risks you can do a lot to limit your chances.

Risk factors for oral cancer include the following:

  • Smoking gives you a six times higher chance of developing oral cancer
  • Smokeless tobacco users have a FIFTY times higher chance to develop oral cancer!
  • Heavy drinkers have the same risk increase as smokers, and nearly 70 percent of oral cancer happens in those who frequently drink excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Excessive sun exposure, especially when young, can make your oral cancer risks much higher, especially on or around your lips.
  • Carrying the human papillomavirus, specifically HPV-16, greatly increases your risks.
  • A family history of any form of cancer adds to your risk of developing oral cancer.

Early Detection Is Key!

At Precise Dental Of Houston we perform oral cancer exams using a specially tuned light that separates healthy from abnormal cells. The procedure is instant and easy, giving us instant detection of trouble spots.

Tools like these are making oral cancer easier to diagnose early, and that detection is bringing mortality rates down. While we’ll never eliminate it completely we can try our hardest to protect you and our other patients with early and effective detection!

Don’t Take Risks You Can’t Afford – Get Screened Today!

Regular dental care is key to many aspects of health, including the detection of oral cancer. Don’t mess around with your health – give our Houston office a call today!

You can reach us at 832-548-9805 or you can request an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

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