April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and at our dental office in Rocky Mount, we know just how serious and scary oral cancer can be. To do our part to help raise awareness, we’re here to share facts, signs, and risk factors of oral cancer with our patients and neighbors.
Facts About Oral Cancer
- More than 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year
- Oral cancer kills more than 8,500 people annually
- Nearly 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users
- Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women
- Patients who have had oral cancer once are up to 20 times more likely to develop another form of cancer
The Importance of a Fast Diagnosis
Oral cancer can be treated, however, treatment is much more successful when the disease is caught early. This is one reason why bi-annual visits to your dentist in Rocky Mount are so important. You see, unlike other types of cancer, there are no official timing guidelines for screening for oral cancer like there is for, say, colon or breast cancer. Your regular dental visits essentially act as regular oral cancer screenings. These checkups allow your dental team to identify any potential signs of oral cancer early so that you can get treatment fast.
Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms
One thing that can make oral cancer difficult to diagnose is that its signs and symptoms can disguise themselves as common oral health problems that don’t seem like a big deal. However, you’re better safe than sorry… so if you notice any of the signs below, call your dentist as soon as you can.
- A sore or discoloration that doesn’t go away
- A lump inside the mouth or neck
- Pain while swallowing, chewing, or speaking
- Changes in voice
- Chronic bad breath
Even though oral cancer can happen to anyone, there are some people who may be at increased risk including:
- Those over 55
- Current or former tobacco users
- Heavy drinkers
Oral cancer is a very serious disease. Reduce your risk by changing any risky habits and commit to seeing your dentist every six months. Of course, if you suspect you’re at risk for oral cancer, or are concerned by any potential signs, we welcome you to call our Rocky Mount dental office.