Oral Cancer Awareness

Did you know oral cancer kills one person every hour of every day of the year? It is currently estimated 50,000 people in the United States are newly diagnosed with oral cancer each year. April is oral cancer awareness month and we want to help educate people on the importance of routine screening to aid in early diagnosis.

The death rate associated with mouth and upper throat cancer is very high because it is usually not found until late in its development. Sadly, the 5 year survival rate is only 60%. Many survivors live with severe facial disfigurement and/or trouble eating and speaking. This is why early diagnosis is so important!

There are a number of risk factors that may contribute to the development of oral cancer. Major risk factors include smoking and tobacco use and heavy consumption of alcohol, especially those people over the age of 50. Alarmingly, young, healthy non-smokers are the fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients! This is due to HPV-the human papilloma virus. There are more than 150 types of HPV, and HPV 16 is the one linked to oral cancer. In fact, if you have HPV, you are 30 times more likely to develop oral cancer.

At Crossroads Dental Arts, we always perform a thorough oral cancer screening at all new patient visits and at every recall hygiene appointment (2-4 times per year). In addition to examining all the soft tissues of the mouth, we use an enhanced assessment system known as the Velscope. This technology uses natural tissue fluorescence that allows clinicians to view abnormalities that may not be visible to the naked eye. Our hygienists perform a Velscope screening regardless of insurance coverage and at no additional cost to the patient!

In between dental visits, it is important to check for any of the following and call their dentist if the symptoms persist for 2 weeks.

  • a sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
  • red or white patches
  • pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
  • a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue

If you have not had a recent oral cancer screening, please call the office today 410-363-2121 and we would be happy to get you checked out right away!