Gone are the days when oral cancer was only high risk for tobacco smokers and alcohol drinkers. Recent studies have shown that young, non-smoking individuals are the fastest growing segment of the oral cancer population. One of the reasons oral cancer goes undetected is that many of the symptoms are not painful. Unfortunately 40% of those diagnosed with oral cancer will not live another five years. The death rate is higher than rates of cancers we hear about routinely, such as as cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and skin cancer. It is important for everyone to get screened for oral cancer annually and an easy way to do so is during your routine dental exam. Below are some facts about this deadly disease and major symptoms.
1. This year approximately 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer.
2. Early oral cancer detection can boost survival rates to 80–90%!
3. Young, non-smoking individuals are the fastest growing segment of the oral cancer population, and they come to the disease from human papilloma virus (hpv16), a sexually transmitted virus.
4. Oral cancer has a high risk of producing second, primary tumors, which means survivors are up to 20 times more likely to develop a second cancer.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, so we’re reminding patients to get screened this year during their professional dental cleanings. Oral cancer has such a dismal survival rate because it’s usually not detected until very late in its progression. Not sure what to look out for?
If you experience any of the following symptoms, please let us know right away:
A lump or thickening of your cheek
A white or red patch on any part of your inner mouth or throat
A sore inside your mouth that doesn’t heal within two weeks
Difficulty moving your tongue or jaw
Numbness inside your mouth
Chronic difficulty swallowing or chewing
The Silverstrom Group uses the latest technology to screen patients for oral cancer. A quick, non-invasive procedure, the handheld VELscope VX discovers abnormalities in the mouth using fluorescence technology within one to two minutes. It is an extremely effective aid for discovering oral cancer. The VELscope helps us discover problems before they can be seen under ordinary white-light conditions.
Actor Michael Douglas is an oral cancer survivor. Watch him give his personal account for the Oral Cancer Foundation:
About Dr. David Silverstrom and Dr. Gary Silverstrom: The Silverstrom Dental Group provides the latest in comprehensive dental care for patients in Livingston, NJ and surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment, call (973) 797-9345.