Over the past 10 years, the number of new oral cancer diagnoses have increased by 30%, and researchers forecast the growth trend to continue, as the number of new cases is expected to sore above 50,000 this year. The goal of dentists around the country is to reverse the current momentum by encouraging patients to visit their local dentist for an oral cancer screening. As you read on, learn about the disease and how early detection and treatment saves lives!
How Oral Cancer Originates
Oral cancer is a disease that starts in the flat cells of the mouth. Here are some of the specific areas that the disease can eventually spread to:
- Floor of the mouth
- Soft and hard palate
Some of the early warning signs of the disease are throat soreness, jaw stiffness or red or white spots in the mouth.
The Importance of Being Proactive
Every six months you should visit your dentist for preventive care, which should include an oral cancer screening. It’s critical to have this done because statistics show that with early detection and proper treatment, patients diagnosed with oral cancer have a 75% chance of surviving a minimum of five years.
However, when the disease is allowed time to spread, the five-year survival rate dips to around 20%.
How an Oral Cancer Screening is Conducted
To provide the most thorough results, an oral cancer screening is usually done in two parts: a visual and tactile examination. Here’s what each step entails.
Some of the visual markers your dentist will be looking for are red or white spots, ulcerations, abnormal growths or bumps. The assessment will include the oral cavity, nose and neck.
To round-out the screening, a tactile approach will be taken to probe the areas previously examined. Your dentist may also incorporate the use of an ultrasound imager to more accurately determine the presence of oral cancer.
Don’t Procrastinate – Protect Yourself
Unfortunately, it’s predicted that around 11,000 people will succumb to oral cancer this year. Thus, you’re fortunate to now have a way to protect yourself. The next step is to schedule your first appointment.
When you visit your dentist for an oral cancer screening, you’ll not only learn the status of your dental health, but you’ll also receive a thorough cleaning to remove the plaque and tartar that can contribute to the development of oral cancer.
So to get on the path to being fully protected, make preventive care a priority today.
About the Author
For nearly 20 years, Dr. Hisham Barakat has been providing the best in dental care to the Vienna area. Throughout his career, he has remained committed to learning more and further honing his skills, which has led him to earn Mastership status in the Academy of General Dentistry. As a practicing dentist, instructor and lecturer, Dr. Barakat uses every ounce of his expertise to improve the oral health of his patients. He performs oral cancer screenings at Vienna Smiles, and he can be reached for more information through his website.