31 Mar April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month
Let’s face it. It’s not a topic that is pretty or exactly fun to talk about, but it’s serious and it’s important.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness month and the bad news is Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide.
Sadly, only about half of those diagnosed will survive in the next five years. It is no longer a disease for the older generation. Younger non-smoking adults are being diagnosed at an alarming rate.
Oral cancer can include throat cancer, lip cancer, mouth cancer, tongue cancer, and jaw cancer and is divided into two categories – the first being the ones that present in the oral cavity which consists of your lips, the inside of your lips and cheeks, teeth, gums, the front two-thirds of your tongue and the floor and roof of your mouth. The second area being the middle region of the throat, including the tonsils and base of the tongue.
Signs and Symptoms
Here are some of the signs and symptoms that you should be watching out for. However, it is important to remember that these are not definitive signs of oral cancer, but may be caused by other conditions including an allergy or an infection.
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
- Halitosis (Bad Breath)
- Unexpected Weight loss
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
- A sore throat or persistent feeling that something is caught in the throat
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
- Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth
- Jaw pain or swelling
- Loose teeth
- Voice changes
- A sore or ulcer that does not heal or bleeds
- Tenderness, pain or lumps anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
The exact cause of oral cancer is still unclear however, there are certain lifestyle factors that can put someone at risk. The use of tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco – increase the risk significantly for oral cancer. Heavy use of alcohol also increases a person’s risk of developing oral cancer and the chances dramatically increase when a person both drinks and smokes heavily.
Most oral cancers occur in people over the age of 40 and men are typically more at risk than women. Eating a diet that is deficient in fruits and vegetables also increases your risk. Excessive sun exposure increases the risk of lip cancer and more recently, there has been a rise in oral cancers associated with the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV16).
Regularly scheduled dental exams are extremely important, particularly for early detection. Not only will they help you avoid problems with your teeth and gums, but if you are concerned with any symptoms listed above, it might be a good idea to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Dental exams not only include checking for gum disease or your teeth for tarter build up and cavities, during your dental exam, the inside of your mouth and your tongue will be examined with the help of a small mirror. Your dentist should also look at your neck and underneath your jaw as part of a routine dental check-up. Remember, seeing a dentist and your hygienist twice a year is a good rule of thumb to follow as they can see parts of your mouth that you cannot see easily yourself.
Free Oral Cancer Screenings
To support Oral Cancer Awareness Month, The Dental Spa is offering free Oral Cancer screening during the month of April. The screening is quick and painless and consists of an examination of the face, neck, lip and mouth for signs of cancer, as well as checking the tongue for any lesions or discolorations. If you have a persistent sore, lesion or any of the symptoms discussed, Please call us on 04 3952005 to schedule your appointment.