You know that tooth decay and gum disease are common threats to your dental health, but there is a larger threat you need to be concerned about as well—oral cancer. Although it is not widely discussed, more than 49,000 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed this year. Due to the lack of education and awareness, the month of April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, which strives to bring attention to the risks of oral cancer and the need for preventive screenings. As your dentist in Rocky River, Dr. William Eick supports the mission to promote education about the cancer while also offering necessary screenings at your preventive appointments.
Understanding Your Risk for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is a very serious issue that kills approximately one person per hour every single day. This results in nearly 10,000 deaths each year. The high death rate is attributed to several factors. There are currently no guidelines in place for oral cancer screenings. As a result, many people are not even aware these screenings exist. This causes the cancer to go undiagnosed and untreated. Oral cancer typically is not found until it has reached the advanced stages and metastasized to other areas of the body.
The late diagnosis of the cancer causes the 5-year survival rate to be low. In fact, only 57% of those with oral cancer will survive more than 5 years after being diagnosed. It is vital regular oral cancer screenings are performed to detect cancerous and precancerous cells early for prompt treatment.
All too often, oral cancer does not produce any noticeable signs or symptoms in the early stages, which is a leading reason the screenings are needed. Although anyone can develop oral cancer, there are certain risk factors that increase the likeliness of its development.
Tobacco use is a common risk factor for oral cancer. In fact, 90% of those diagnosed with the cancer are tobacco users. In addition, heavy alcohol consumption further increases your risk. When heavy alcohol use and tobacco use are combined, your risk significantly increases.
Preventing Oral Cancer with Regular Screenings
As your family dentist in Rocky River, Dr. Eick provides noninvasive oral cancer screenings at preventive dental appointments. With a regular screening, areas of concern will be detected sooner for prompt intervention. Even if you do not have any symptoms of the cancer, you still need a regular screening.
In addition to regular screenings, you need to schedule an appointment right away if you notice any changes to your oral health, such as sores, swelling, lumps, pain, or numbness. If you have a feeling like something is caught in your throat, develop difficulty moving the jaw or tongue, or have a lingering sore throat, you need to schedule an oral cancer screening.
Protect Your Health
The earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the more likely a positive outcome will result. If you need an oral cancer screening, contact our office today to schedule a consultation. Dr. Eick provides the comprehensive evaluation you need to protect your health.