This April, the nation celebrates the 19th Annual Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Associations across the nation are joining the non-profit Oral Cancer Foundation in its campaign to raise awareness. This is an important reminder to the public that when oral cancer is detected and treated early, mortality and treatment-related health problems are reduced.
Regular oral cancer examinations performed by your oral health professional remain the best method for detecting oral cancer in its early stages. If you have never had an oral cancer examination, there is no better time to schedule one than during Oral Cancer Awareness Month. When you schedule your appointment, make sure to request that this examination is made a routine part of all of your future dental check-ups.
Historically those who are at especially high risk of developing oral cancer are heavy drinkers and smokers older than age 50. Additionally, cancer is also present more often in younger, nonsmoking individuals due to HPV16, the virus most commonly associated with cervical cancer.
Symptoms of oral cancer caused by tobacco usage and excessive alcohol usage may include one or more of the following:
- Any sore or ulceration that does not heal within 14 days.
- Red, white, or black discoloration of the soft tissues of the mouth.
- Abnormalities that easily bleed when touched.
- Lumps or hard spots in the tissue, usually border of the tongue.
- Sores under dentures, which even after adjustment does not heal.
- A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck that has been there for at least two weeks.
Symptoms of HPV-caused oropharyngeal cancer persist longer than two weeks and may include one or more of the following:
- Hoarseness or sore throat that does not resolve.
- Constant coughing that does not resolve.
- Difficulty swallowing; a sensation that food is getting caught in your throat.
- An earache on one side (unilateral) that persists for more than a few days.
- All of these symptoms have the commonality of being persistent and not resolving.
This year’s awareness efforts will be supported by the Oral Cancer Foundation’s Check Your Mouth™ individual self-discovery initiative (checkyourmouth.org). This campaign encourages people to regularly self-check for signs and symptoms of oral cancer between dental visits, and to see a dental expert if they do not improve or disappear after two-three weeks.
Support Oral Cancer Awareness
All of us here at Durbin Dental in Elizabethtown encourage everyone to support the Oral Cancer Foundation’s Check Your Mouth™ initiative and support the fight against this disease. Visit http://checkyourmouth.org/ today and take just 5 minutes and learn how to perform a routine self-exam.