April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

During April, our dental team joins dental professionals around the globe to raise awareness about oral cancer.  Oral cancer is more common that we might think – in the U.S., 1 person dies per hour, every single day, 365 days a year from oral cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer usually begins as something most of us would ignore: an unusual white or red patch or small ulcer in the mouth, hoarseness that lasts for a long time, or a bump or mass inside the mouth or neck.  The key is if these or any pain, difficulty chewing or swallowing, or bumps/masses last for more than 14 days, they should be checked to rule out oral cancer or cancers of the head and neck. 

The most common areas for oral cancer to occur are on the tongue and on the floor of the mouth.  

This is why regular dental screenings are important.  Dr. Booth will visually examine the soft tissues of the mouth, the tongue and roof of the mouth during regular hygiene visits.  We also use Vizlite screening technology to take a closer look at small bumps or discolorations.  If Dr. Booth has any concerns, he will involve a specialist to follow through on testing to make sure there is no danger. 

dr doug booth huntsville oral cancer screening

The Changing Faces of Oral Cancer
10 years ago, the most common cause of oral cancer was smoking and heavy alcohol use, and the predominant victims were men over the age of 50.  Today, however, oral cancer is linked to the HPV-16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16), which can occur in young adults.   The percentage of women that are diagnosed has increased to a ratio of 2 men to 1 woman (from 6 men to 1 woman) in the past decade.  And, smokeless tobacco use is also a proven cause of oral cancer.

Treatment for Oral Cancer
It is possible to treat oral cancer and survive, early detection is crucial.  Like most forms of cancer, treatment is specific to the stage/location of the cancer, and is a combined approach of surgeons, specialists and dental professionals. 

Our goal as your dental health care team is to inform you of the risks of smoking and smokeless tobacco products, as well as monitor your oral health through regular examinations during your cleaning visits. 

Please help us fight oral cancer, and share this information with your loved ones.  If you have not been screened within the last year, please Contact Us to schedule an appointment.