Did you know that oral cancer is growing at an alarming rate? One person dies every hour from oral cancer. The five-year mortality rate of oral cancer is approximately 50%, which is higher than cervical cancer and prostate cancer.
The American Cancer Society reports more than 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year and over 8,000 deaths occur annually due to oral cancer. Current methods to treat oral cancers (surgery, radiation and chemotherapy) are disfiguring and very expensive. Our office promotes preventing high-risk behaviors, including the use of tobacco products, smokeless tobacco products and excessive alcohol consumption.
In its early stages, most oral cancer is virtually undetectable with the naked eye. When oral cancer begins, it may not always produce pain or discomfort. It is possible to have oral cancer or a pre-cancerous lesion, without even knowing it. This is why the Centers for Disease Control recommend that all patients over the age of 17, should be screened annually for oral cancer.
Early detection is the key in treating oral cancer. We encourage our patients to have an oral cancer exam at least once a year. The oral cancer exam is painless and easy. Your doctor will look for abnormalities and touch the tongue, lips, cheeks, face, glands and neck. A special laser or light may be used to look below the skin’s surface for unusual spots or lesions. Oral cancer often does not produce symptoms, which makes it hard to recognize without an exam. The goal of the screening is to identify oral cancer early, when there is a greater chance for a cure.
Your doctor understands the severity of oral cancer and believes that oral cancer screenings are imperative for your overall health. Ask your doctor about your personal risk for oral cancer, based on genetics and your lifestyle choices. Your doctor will recommend an oral cancer-screening interval that is best for you.