Here at Leicester and Boylston Dental, we take your health very seriously and we strive to provide you with the best care possible. In order to do that, education about prominent issues in the Dental world is needed, and Oral Cancer is an issue that affects people daily.
It is as common as leukemia and kills more Americans each year than either skin or cervical cancer. Patients with oral cancer have a poor prognosis, and the 5-year survival rate of approximately 52% has remained unchanged for the past 50 years. Perhaps the single most important reason for this is the fact that oral cancers continue to be diagnosed in advanced stages. Research studies have repeatedly demonstrated that the survival rate for oral cancer patients increases dramatically when the diagnosis is established in early stages.
How to Prevent Oral Cancer from Advancing:
A regular checkup at a hygiene appointment is a good time for your dentist and hygienist to check your entire mouth for signs of oral cancer. Regular appointments can detect the early stages of oral cancer or conditions that may lead to oral cancer. By detecting oral cancer in an early stage, survival rate increases 80%-90%, but unfortunately only about 35% of oral cancer is detected in early stages. To early detect oral cancer, continue on a routine dental visitation schedule.
How to Spot a Spot:
The Massachusetts Dental Society has come out with the “How to Spot a Spot” self oral examination instruction guide. Although your dentist is specially trained to diagnose oral cancer at its earliest stages, you should preform self exams often. Using a mirror, check your lips, cheek lining, throat, roof of the mouth and tongue for:
-Any white or red spots or sores that bleed easily or do not heal
-A color change of the oral tissue
-A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
-Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips
Other symptoms of oral cancer include: loose teeth; difficulty or pain when swallowing or chewing; difficulty wearing dentures; bad breath; sensory loss of the face; difficulty opening the jaw; a lump in the neck or an earache. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious problems, but they also indicate the possible presence of oral cancer. You are at a higher risk for oral cancer if you use tobacco, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, are exposed to the sun at a higher than normal amount, and have a history of head or neck cancer.
The extent of treatment for oral cancer depends on a number of factors. Among them are the location, size, type and extent of the tumor and stage of the disease. Your doctor also considers your age and general health. Treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy or a combination. You also may receive chemotherapy, or treatment with anticancer drugs. But the course of action to remove the cancer is ideally a multidisciplinary approach involved the efforts of many different specialists and doctors.
Talk to your Doctor:
Do not hesitate to contact our office if any of the above information sounds all too familiar. Let us know about your concern and we will schedule an appointment for you as soon as possible.
We hope that you have gained a bit of knowledge by reading through this letter. It is extremely important that you prevent this from happening to you, so please call our office at 508-892-4882 (Leicester) or 508-869-6388 (Boylston) to make an appointment with the hygiene department and have your Oral Cancer Screening completed.