April is Oral Cancer Awareness month, but at Vintage Dental in Modesto, it’s an important topic all year round. Oral cancer may not be in the news as often as other cancers, but nearly 7,000 people will die in 2013 as a result of oral cancer and nearly 36,0000 new cases will be diagnosed. (Source: ACS, revised 02.26.2013)
Oral Cancer Symptoms
It’s important to have an oral cancer screening at every dental checkup. Oral cancer isn’t difficult to diagnose, but the danger is that it’s often caught in late stages when it’s spread to other parts of the body. If you notice any of the following symptoms in between checkups, please call us right away:
- A sore that doesn’t heal
- A lump or thickening of the lining of the mouth
- Difficult or painful chewing or swallowing
Who Gets Oral Cancer
More than 80% of oral cancers in men (65% in women) occur in tobacco and alcohol users, and combined heavy tobacco and alcohol use increases the risk 300 times that of non-users. (Source: National Institutes of Health, 2006)
Notice I didn’t say “smokers.” There is NO safe tobacco product, despite what you might hear. Even smokeless tobacco, pipes, and clove cigarettes increase your risk nearly 100 times more than non-tobacco users.
HPV and Oral Cancer
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that causes genital cancers in men and women. It is also becoming as much of risk for oral cancer as tobacco and alcohol. If you know you already have HPV, or are concerned about it, please talk to your doctor and make sure you have regular dental checkups as well as regular health checkups and screenings.
At Vintage Dental, we perform an oral cancer screen at every exam. It’s also a good practice to check your own mouth for any changes when you brush and floss. Call our Modesto dental office today for an appointment, especially if you’re overdue for your regular checkup. After all, we’d like to keep seeing you for a long time!