There is one type of cancer that is rarely on one’s radar, yet it kills almost one person every hour, every day. This is oral and oropharyngeal cancer – cancers of the mouth and upper throat – and 40% of those diagnosed with this disease won’t survive longer than 5 years.
The relatively high death rate is because these cancers are routinely discovered late in their development. So one key to surviving oral cancers is early detection.
Oral Cancer Risks and Symptoms
Historically, those at high risk of these cancers have been smokers and heavy drinkers who are older than age 50.
However, today we see oral cancers, particularly oropharyngeal cancers, more frequently in those who are younger and non-smokers. The sexually-transmitted HPV virus, human papillomavirus, is one reason for the increase in this younger group.
Watch for these symptoms, especially any that does not improve or disappear within 2-3 weeks:
- Mouth or lip numbness, pain or tenderness
- Red or white patches
- A sore or other irritation that doesn’t go away
- Rough or crusty spots or lumps
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing or chewing
- Your teeth don’t fit together properly when you close your mouth
Symptoms specific to HPV-caused oropharyngeal cancer include:
- A swelling or lump in the neck that is painless
- Swelling of the tonsillar area at the back of the mouth
- Pain or difficulty when swallowing
- Sore throat
Ask for an Oral Exam During Oral Cancer Awareness Month
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time to get checked for this deadly cancer.
At our practice, we examine our patients during semi-annual cleanings and exams. We use special technology called the VELscope oral assessment system that can detect masses not yet visible to the naked eye.
Because of the link with HPV, we recommend that all adults age 18 and over get regular VELscope oral cancer screenings every year.
Please call us for an appointment – early detection and treatment of oral cancer may be the key to complete recovery.
Let Us Know If You Have Questions on Any Aspect of Oral Health Care
Dr. Lorraine Burio of Candlewood Dental Care has been treating and educating patients for over twenty-five years. Our office serves the New Fairfield, New Milford, Danbury, and Sherman areas of CT and Pawling, Patterson and Putnam Lake of New York. You can call us at 203-746-1200 or make an appointment here.