Oral Cancer and your dentist
According to the American Cancer Society, 48, 330 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed; 9,570- of these people will die of the disease. In Arizona, oral-cavity cancer accounts for about 3 percent of all cancer cases; the rate is the same nationwide.
Recent years have seen an overall decrease in new cases of this type of cancer; however, a recent rise in cases has been linked to infection with HPV- human papilomavirus. People with HPV- associated cancer have better outcomes than those without HPV.
The average age of diagnosis is 62, with men more than twice as likely to contract oral cancer. One quarter of patients are younger than 55, but oral cancer is rare in children.
Approximately 15 percent of new cases are found to have cancer in a nearby area.
Risk factors for oral cancer are smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages- doing both is the most dangerous because alcohol changes the cells in the mouth, dehydrating the mouth, to make them more susceptible to the carcinogens in tobacco. Chewing tobacco is a great risk factor as well. So the young adult that smokes a few cigarettes while drinking with friends is increasing his or her risk by 15 times.
But about 25 percent of people who get oral cancer will have no risk factors.
Oral cancer can affect the lips, tongue, cheek lining and hard or soft palate. Some signs of the disease are:
- A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal after 14 days.
- A change in the color of oral tissues.
- A lump, thickening, crust, rough spot or small eroded area in the mouth.
- Pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth, lips or face.
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue.
- Change the way teeth fit together.
- Hoarseness that persists.
Your dentist and hygienist can be your first line of defense against oral cancer. During your exam, they will look and feel for anything that is unusual. A panorex-the x-ray that goes around your head, should be taken on a regular basis. This x-ray is a good cyst and cancer detector for abnormalities in the jaw and part of the sinus that could not be seen otherwise.
Other tests, like screening the saliva, are on the horizon for even better detection.
Just another reason to see your dentist and hygienist on a regularly!
We invite you to contact our office to schedule an initial consultation.
Call us at (928) 445-8980
Prescott Dental Arts
1787 Willow Creek Rd.
Prescott, AZ 86301