April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Every day 132 people are diagnosed with oral cancer. The Oral Cancer Foundation promotes awareness for oral cancer and early detection by partnering with various organizations to offer free screening during the month of April.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth and appears as a growth or sore that does not go away. An estimated 48,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. The death rate associated with oral cancer is relatively high because of routinely late detection. Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women, and men over the age of 50 are at greater risk.
• Lingering teeth with no apparent dental cause
• Areas of red or white lesions in your mouth or lips
• Swelling that makes wearing dentures uncomfortable
• Sores, swellings, lumps or thick patches anywhere in or around your mouth or throat
• Unexplained numbness or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
• Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.
• Smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes.
• Family history of cancer
• Excessive alcohol consumption
• Smokeless tobacco such as chewing tobacco products.
• Oral cancer screening – an examination performed by a dentist or doctor to look for signs of cancer or precancerous growth in your mouth.
• Oral brush biopsy – a small sample of tissue is analyzed for cancerous cells.
• Scalpel biopsy – this test usually requires anesthesia and can be performed by a dentist or a specialist.
Similar to most other cancer treatments:
• Surgery to remove the cancerous growth
• Followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy to terminate any remaining cancer cells
• Practice daily oral hygiene by brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily
• Limit sun exposure
• Eat a well balanced diet
• Quit smoking/using tobacco products
• See your dentist regularly.