April begins with pranks and ends with warm days that indicate the lead up to summer — and in between, your dentist knows that it’s time to have a conversation about something more serious that you may not think about too much: oral cancer. This time of year has been designated Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and we are paying attention. Keep reading to learn more about this disease, and how getting screened could be the best thing you ever did.
About Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is that of the cheeks, lips, gums, tongue, or surrounding oral structures. It is one of the more fatal forms of cancer, yet it is one that doesn’t seem to make the news at the same rate as others. But the truth is that this disease kills one person in the US per hour, every day of the year. Not only that, but estimates say there will be nearly 50,000 diagnosis of oral cancer in 2019 alone.
In the past, oral cancer was pretty much limited to older folks — especially smokers and heavy drinkers. However, due to the increase in the human papillomavirus (HPV16, specifically), the disease is being found in young and otherwise healthy people at higher rates than ever before. Young men are particularly affected.
What a Screening Entails
Getting a routine oral cancer screening can be a great way to ensure that, if this disease does develop, it is detected early while chances of successful treatment are highest.
An oral cancer screening is a simple process. It works like this:
- Your dentist asks you a series of questions about your oral and overall health
- Using eyesight and touch, the oral cavity and surrounding structures are checked for lumps, bumps, asymmetries, and other irregularities
- Follow-up advice is given as needed if anything suspicious is located
Talk to your dentist about how often you should receive an oral cancer screening. For many people, an annual examination is sufficient.
Preventing Oral Cancer
If you smoke or drink alcohol in excess, quitting these habits can help you prevent oral cancer. Even still, 1 in 4 people who are diagnosed with this disease do not have any of the risk factors. In addition to living a healthy lifestyle, the best prevention is usually visiting a professional for a regular oral cancer screening screening. Schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss a preventive game plan in person to make sure you get personalized advice that is tailored specifically to your oral health needs.
Meet the Practice
Canatella Dental, led by Drs. Canatella and Neumeyer, offers a range of dentistry treatments for patients of all ages. To schedule an appointment or to learn more about the need for oral cancer screenings, don’t hesitate to call their office at (504) 282-0700.