Oral cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. It can affect patients of all ages, and contrary to popular belief, it is not limited to impacting the health of tobacco users. When a disease claims at least one life every hour and has a 50% mortality rate five years after diagnosis, it’s important that patients and doctors alike do their part to limit the impact of this disease. That’s why April has been dedicated oral cancer awareness month. We encourage patients to receive a screening for this deadly disease at least twice a year during dental checkups, and April is a good time to educate patients about the need for regular oral cancer assessments.
How are Oral Cancer Screenings Performed?
Oral cancer screenings are quick and painless. We simply examine your oral and facial structures looking for indicators of the disease. The dentist may also ask some questions that seem odd. Like, “Do you have difficulty swallowing food?” or “Have you noticed changes in the way you speak?” This helps to assess whether or not you are experiencing nonvisual side effects of oral cancer.
Why Should I Get an Oral Cancer Screening?
Many patients falsely believe that oral cancer only affects tobacco users. Unfortunately, this disease can impact people for a variety of reasons, and some patients who are diagnosed do not engage in any high risk behaviors associated with oral cancer. This disease can progress quickly and the warning signs are often subtle. Because treatment is most effective in the earliest stages, regular screenings are your best option to avoid serious health concerns related to oral cancer.
What are the Warning Signs of Oral Cancer?
The warning signs of oral cancer can vary widely, depending on the type of cancer – throat, tongue, lip, etc. Some things you can look out for include:
- Changes in the color or texture of soft tissue
- Sores that don’t heal
- Swelling or hardening of the lymph nodes
- Hard spots in soft tissue
- Sore throat or hoarse voice
- Difficulty swallowing
Meet the Highland Village Family Dentistry Team
The Highland Village Family Dentistry team would like to invite you to contact us and find out more oral cancer screening, schedule an appointment, or learn more about any of our dental care solutions. We welcome patients of all ages, and our team members truly go above and beyond to make visiting the dentist a positive experience for everyone we treat. Whether you’re looking for a new dentist or you’re new to Highland Village, we have the dental services to keep your family smiling.