With all the medical progress we have made in cancer treatment, oral cancer is one of the few types that haven't had a reduced mortality in over 30 years. In fact- the number of North Americans developing oral cancer is 3X the number that develops cervical cancer. Oral cancer kills one person every hour, 24 hours a day in the U.S. alone! Of over 34,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only half will be alive in 5 years.
Check out Dr. Matin's latest article: Oral Cancer - Can It Happen To You?
However, the cancer is not inherently more lethal than other forms, its mortality rate is so high only because the cancer is often discovered very late. If oral cancer is caught early, 90% of cases are curable. Although the cancer is generally painless in its early stages, there are some signs that may hint at its presence. The cancer may appear as a red or white patch of tissue. It may look like a cancer sore. There may be a lump or mass inside the mouth or neck, pain swallowing, speaking or chewing, numbness in the face, or even a unilateral persistent earache. In fact, because the cancer can mimic so many common benign tissue changes in your mouth, it is recommended that you see us if you have any sore or discolored area in your mouth which does not heal in 14 days. Only your doctor or dentist can successfully diagnose the cancer, and to increase our ability to diagnose we have recently purchased the state-of-the-art VELscope Oral Cancer Screening System .
In the past, risk factors associated with oral cancer were:
• Over the age of 40
• Tobacco use
• Alcohol consumption
• Persistent viral infection, including the human papilloma virus (HPV)
• Have a family history of cancer
These risk factors are often multiplicative, so that people who both use tobacco and consume alcohol in significant quantities have a 15 times greater risk for developing the cancer than others.
However, in the past 3 decades, there has been a 60% increase in oral cancer in adults under 40 years old- 25% of which do not fit the high-risk profile. More and more, oral cancer is striking younger people who don't use tobacco or abuse alcohol, meaning it is vital that everyone receives regular oral cancer screening.
For comprehensive information on the diagnosis, treatment, and progression of oral cancer, see the website of the Oral Cancer Foundation .
At the office of Laura L. Matin, D.D.S , in Portland, Oregon, we are committed to full-body health through dentistry. By creating awareness and promoting early discovery and diagnosis of oral cancer, we hope to reduce the mortality of oral cancer, which is projected to grow 11% in the US this year. Contact us today to schedule your next examination and receive oral cancer screening .
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