Prevent Oral Cancer
with Regular Screenings
Oral cancer kills more people nationwide than both cervical and skin (melanoma) cancer, and only half of the patients diagnosed with it will survive more than five years. One American dies every hour from oral cancer. The most common risk factors are tobacco use, frequent high quantity alcohol consumption, constant sunlight exposure, habitual cheek or lip biting, and poorly fitting dentures. Although most oral cancers are found in people who use tobacco and/or drink alcohol excessively, 25% of oral cancers actually occur in people who have no risk factors at all.
Your dentist could very well be your number one soldier in the fight against oral cancer. Statistics show that in about 10% of patients, dentists notice a problem area even before the patient does. During a regular dental checkup, your dentist will examine your entire mouth, searching for flat, painless, white or red spots or small sores. Other signs of oral cancer can include:
- A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal
- A color change of the oral tissues
- A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust, or small, eroded area
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
One test can determine if a trouble spot is cancerous. A scalpel biopsy is a painless test performed on areas that look harmless or do not have a clear cause. This test can detect potentially dangerous cells in the early stages of the disease. This test requires local anesthesia, is usually performed on more suspicious areas.
Remember to schedule regular checkups for everyone in your family. Two visits per year are recommended for general care. If, between visits, you notice any unusual changes in your mouth, call Chaska Dental Center immediately. Together, we can fight and win the battle against oral cancer.