Awareness months – as they are sometimes called – are not official holidays recognized on any calendar but they are important. These months are dedicated to raising public awareness about important issues and topics. Oral cancer is an important, yet often overlooked issue which is why healthcare and dental professionals have declared April to be Oral Cancer Awareness Month.

Sedaros Oral Facial Surgery and Dental Implants wants to help raise awareness about oral cancer during the month of April. The facts and information provided will help raise awareness about this important issue.

Statistics and Facts About Oral Cancer

  • Oral cancer may not be as popular or well-known as other types of cancers, but it still has devastating statistics. The following is a look at some of the statistic and facts about oral cancer:
  • Approximately 49,670 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed in a single year in the United States
  • Average age of being diagnosed with oral cancer is 62
  • Approximately 9,700 individuals die from oral cancer in the United States every year
  • In the early stages, oral cancer has a 5-year survival rate of 83%
  • In the later stages, the 5-year survival rate decreases to as low as 38%

Understanding Oral Cancer

Healthcare professionals and dental professionals apply the term oral cancer to any type of cancer that occurs in or near the mouth. The cancer can occur in the jaw, gums, sinuses, throat, tongue, lips, and floor of the mouth.

The specific type of oral cancer that you are diagnosed with will depend upon where the cancer is located. If the cancer is located directly in the mouth, for example, the jaw, lips, front of the tongue, or floor of the mouth, you will be diagnosed with oral cavity cancer. If the cancer is located in the back of the tongue, throat, and back of the mouth, it is diagnosed as oropharynx cancer.

Treatment of oral cancer will depend upon the type of cancer you have, what stage it is in, and your medical history. Some treatment options that are used include chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

Who is at Risk of Developing Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer can happen to anyone at any age. However, individuals who have a history of smoking or those who experience severe gum disease often are considered to be at a higher risk for developing oral cancer.

Gender may also play a role in whether or not you are at risk for developing oral cancer. Studies suggest that more males are diagnosed with oral cancer than females.

How is Oral Cancer Detected?

Early diagnosis of oral cancer can improve your chances of successfully treating this disease. Undergoing regular screenings, both at your doctor’s office and dentist’s office can help detect oral cancer in its early stages.

Some methods doctors and dentists use to detect oral cancer include:

  • Visual examination – looking inside the mouth for any visible signs of sores, extreme redness, or lumps
  • Hands-on examination of the throat and neck
  • Use of a special dye that can highlight abnormal areas in the mouth that should be tested
  • Use of a laser light to find abnormal tissues that should be biopsied

In addition to examinations and use of lights or dyes, your doctor or dentist will ask you questions about your recent health and if you have noticed any problems. Some problems that could indicate you are at a high risk for oral cancer include:

  • Sores that don’t appear to heal
  • Mouth pain that never seems to go away
  • Hardening or thickening of the cheeks
  • White or red patches that develop on the tongue, gums, and tonsils
  • Feeling of a constant sore throat
  • Trouble swallowing or chewing
  • Numbness of the tongue
  • Constant bad breath
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Changes in your voice
  • Loose teeth or sudden pain the jaw

Any of these problems should be brought to the attention of your dentist or healthcare provider immediately. He or she will be able to run a screening for oral cancer.

If you live in the Central Florida area and are looking treatment for oral cancer or wish to be screened for oral cancer, call Sedaros Oral Facial Surgery and Dental Implants to schedule an appointment. Dr. Sedaros is experienced in screening and treating diseases and cancers of the mouth.