Oral cancers include cancers of the lips, mouth, throat, tongue, and tonsils. Nearly 45,000 Americans will receive a diagnosis for oral cancer this year. Of those diagnosed, only half will still be alive in five years. Oral cancers have a history of late diagnosis not because they are particularly difficult to identify or diagnose, but because more than 50% of Americans do not visit the dentist regularly.
How can dentists prevent oral cancer?
Your dentist is your number one chance for early diagnosis of oral cancers. At each routine dental exam, we perform an oral cancer screening, looking for any suspicious lesions or melanomas. Pre-cancerous lesions are often white or red in color and may or may not be painful. In the event we discover an area of concern, we will refer you to a surgeon for a biopsy to rule out cancer. Early diagnosis is key to longer survival rates.
The risk of oral cancer dramatically increases with tobacco use, alcohol use, and presence of HPV (human papillomavirus). While the presence of any of these risk factors does not mean you will develop oral cancer, it will be beneficial for you to remain diligent and alert.
Oral cancer is one of the most disfiguring cancers when it comes to treatment. Late diagnosis generally means disfiguring surgeries in order to save your life. You may remember the dramatic change in the film critic, Roger Ebert’s appearance after treatment for oral cancer. His public appearances throughout treatment gave a greater amount of awareness to oral cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Keledjian Dental Can Help!
At Keledjian Dental, when we look for oral cancer, our best tool is a sharp eye. You can help us by calling to schedule if you have a lesion or sore in your mouth that persists for more than two weeks. Persistent mouth sores can be a sign of oral cancer. If you notice any type of discoloration that also persists, you should notify us immediately. Persistent ear pain is sometimes a warning sign, as well.
You can contact our office by calling or emailing.