The month of April is considered National Oral Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the United States for 2019 show that about 53,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer and an estimated 10,860 will die of these cancers.
Lip and other oral cancers are diseases in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lips or mouth. Risk factors for oral cancer include tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, infection with human papillomavirus, sun exposure, diet, and personal history of the disease. These cancers are more than twice as common in men as in women.
Signs and symptoms of these cancers include patches inside the mouth or on the lips, a sore on the mouth or lips that doesn’t heal, bleeding, pain, or numbness in the mouth, loose teeth, difficulty swallowing, lump in the neck, swelling of the jaw, difficulty wearing dentures, and a persistent earache.
The death rate associated with oral and pharyngeal cancers remains particularly high due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development. The seriousness and the possibility of oral cancer is one of the many reasons you should not skip regular dental visits and checkups. At these visits your dentist can perform physical exams and other tests that examine the mouth and throat that can help detect, diagnose, and stage lip and oral cavity cancer.
The prognosis and treatment options for lip and oral cancers are reliant on the stage, location, and size of the cancer as well as the patient’s general health. The sooner cancer cells are discovered, the better chance that a plan can be put in place to begin treatment and improve the chances of recovery.
Don’t wait, if it has been months or even years since your last dental checkup, call our office today to schedule an appointment to see one of our many professionals. It could very well be a life-saving visit.
This column is sponsored by Midtown Dental and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFHN or of its advertisers.
Dr. William Nerestant received his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the University of Detroit/Mercy School of Dentistry in Michigan. After serving and being recognized for his meritorious service in the Air Force as an officer in the Dental Corps, he currently serves patients at Midtown Dental in Lakeland. For more information, visit mymidtowndental.com or call (863) 226-0987.