You hope that you never have to hear the word cancer when talking with a health professional. But it’s important to be aware of your risks and to take necessary screening precautions so that you can act quickly if you ever do hear it. Did you know that April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month? Now is a great time to increase your knowledge of this specific disease. Here are five facts you may not know about oral cancer in Frisco.
Although it doesn’t garner the attention that breast or prostate cancers get, oral cancer is more common than you might think. About 53,000 people are anticipated to be newly diagnosed in 2019, and only a little more than half of these people are likely to survive past the five-year mark. In fact, on average one person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. These sad statistics are not because oral cancer is particularly difficult to diagnose; the death rate is so high because oral cancer is often found during the advanced stages of development, when treatment often offers too little too late.
Although a main cause of oral cancer is smoking, there are other risk factors as well, including the following:
Tobacco use of any kind.
Heavy consumption of alcohol.
Excessive sun exposure to your lips.
Human papillomavirus (HPV).
As with other cancers, patients with oral cancer have a higher likelihood of beating oral cancer when they are diagnosed and treated sooner rather than later. In fact, early detection can increase the odds of success up to 90 percent. That’s why it’s so important to have oral cancer screenings performed on a regular basis.
At your dental checkups every six months, your dentist in Frisco should perform an oral exam, during which they visually inspect your teeth, gums, tongue, cheeks, lips, and neck for any abnormal signs of serious conditions, including oral cancer. It can be difficult for someone without training to identify potential areas of concern, but your dentist is an expert in orofacial structures and issues. As a result, your dentist can be your first point of detection for oral cancer. By attending your dental checkup twice a year, you help ensure that you can catch oral cancer early.
Unlike other medical tests or screenings, oral cancer screenings take little time and involve very little discomfort. Your dentist starts the screening by asking you about any changes to your medical history or unusual symptoms. Then, they visually inspect the inside of your mouth, potentially using gauze to hold and gently move your tongue so that they can get a better view of the back portions of your mouth. Then they will carefully feel your neck for any abnormal bumps or lumps. If they do find something potentially concerning, they will refer you to a doctor to have additional tests.
If it has been awhile since you’ve seen the dentist, take the time now rather than down the road to make an appointment with them for your checkup. In the end, your health is worth the little time and effort it takes to get an oral cancer screening every six months. After all, it could save your life! For more information about oral cancer, contact your dentist in Frisco.
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