October 30, 2017
Cancer is one of the most devastating diseases of our time. Breast cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer all seem to receive a lot of attention in the media and from physicians. However, everyone should also keep in mind that oral cancer poses a threat; the American Cancer Society predicted that it would claim nearly 10,000 lives in 2017 and that nearly 50,000 people would have to fight. However, you might wonder if you personally are at risk of getting oral cancer. Is it really that important for you to get screened? Your dentist in Plano assures you that, yes, getting checked for this disease is important for everyone.
What Are the Risk Factors?
Anyone can get oral cancer, even if you don’t have any of the risk factors listed below. However, if any of the following are true of you, it’s especially important that you keep on the lookout for symptoms of this destructive condition.
- You are a man.
- You use cigarettes or chewing tobacco.
- You are a heavy drinker.
- You are over 55 years old.
- You’ve contracted the human papilloma virus.
Of these risk factors, tobacco is one of the most significant; well over half of oral cancer cases are related to cigarettes or chewing tobacco.
What Symptoms Should You Watch For?
It’s important that you know your body and take note of any changes in or around your mouth. Some signs that might indicate you have cancer include:
- There is a sore in your mouth that refuses to heal.
- Your mouth is in a significant amount of pain, and you don’t know why.
- There is a lump or unusual thickening in your cheek.
- You constantly feel like there is something stuck in your throat.
- You’re experiencing numbness in or around your mouth.
- Your voice changes.
- You have persistent bad breath.
- Your teeth are becoming looser.
How Can Your Dentist Help?
Many dentists have undergone extra education to help them detect oral cancer. Through specialized screening techniques, and with the help of technology, they may be able to alert you to your potential cancer before you notice any symptoms. The earlier cancer is detected, the more likely survival is. That’s why it is so important that you visit your dentist at least twice a year — your regular checkups could be a matter of life and death.
If your dentist notes anything that merits concern, you may have to undergo a biopsy or other tests to confirm the diagnosis. Once you know what the problem is, you can decide on your course of treatment.
Oral cancer is a malicious disease that affects tens of thousands of people every year. Screening can help you catch the problem early on — it might even save your life!
About Dental Renaissance
Drs. Christopher Pollard and Bhavita Patel are your dental care experts in Plano. They take your oral health seriously, which is why they stay on the lookout for signs of oral cancer. If it’s time for your next dental checkup, you can contact our office at 972-423-0880.
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