Did you know that oral cancer kills one person every hour of every day? This year alone there will be over 34,000 cases diagnosed and about 8,000 deaths. As with other cancers, there are preventive measures that you can take to reduce your risks.
Smoking, tobacco chewing, and alcohol have been highly linked to oral cancer. In the recent years we have discovered that HPV virus (the virus responsible for cervical cancer in women) is also responsible for oral cancer. The HPV virus has gained momentum in the recent years and effects 20 million Americans right now and nearly 6 million new cases are diagnosed every year according to the CDC. There are certain strains of the HPV virus that predispose to oral cancer. Here at Lifetime Smiles in Escondido, Ca, we are on the cutting edge of testing for this virus via oral DNA testing which is a saliva test. Having the HPV virus doesn’t mean you have oral cancer but it shows increased risk. In addition, in recent years, there have been studies that have tried to link mouthwashes containing alcohol to oral cancer in patients that used it chronically for a long time and several times a day. While the jury is still out on that one, I would recommend using a mouthwash without alcohol since alcohol gives most people a dry mouth anyway.
Oral cancer lesions usually begin with a small swelling or nodule that is red or white or a combination of red and white. If oral cancer is detected early, survival rate in 80-90%.
Some signs to look for in detecting that there maybe a problem are:
- A sore or a nodule that doesn’t go away completely in two weeks.
- A change in the way your bite feels (this may be an indication that there is a cyst or tumor in the jaw bone).
- Numbness or tingling in the face.
- A swelling or lump in the floor of the mouth or in the lymph nodes in the neck.
- Trouble chewing. swallowing, moving your tongue or neck.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables specially those that are high in antioxidants may help prevent cancer. For more information on the effects antioxidants have on cancer read our blog. Since dentists are the clinicians that look into your mouth more than any other doctors, I highly recommend you visit your dentist twice a year. Here at our Escondido dental office, we screen for oral cancer at every hygiene appointment. If you suspect something is wrong, call our office at 760-747-1811. Don’t wait! Also be sure to check out our new patient promotions.
Dr. Rabee McDonald