Oral cancer is a devastating disease that’s on the rise. And while it’s common to hear about the importance of screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies, you don’t hear about oral cancer screenings as often. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to learn some of the statistics for this condition and how easy an oral cancer screening in Medford is – especially since they’re conveniently done at your dental checkups. Learn more below!
Oral Cancer Statistics
- An estimated 53,000 people in the U.S. are newly diagnosed with oral cancer each year (or 132 people each day).
- 1 person will die from it every hour.
- Due to the HPV virus, oral cancer is increasingly being found in young, healthy people who don’t use tobacco
- A little over 25% of newly diagnosed cases occur in people younger than 55.
Despite these sobering statistics, there is good news: With early detection, the survival rate for oral cancer is 85-90%. And the best way to catch this disease early is to schedule regular checkups with a dentist in Medford, which automatically include oral cancer screenings.
How Often Should You Be Screened?
The recommendation for screenings and dental checkups is the same: twice per year. And, in addition to being checked by a professional, it’s also helpful to keep an eye out for the following signs and symptoms between visits:
- A chronic feeling that something is stuck in your throat.
- Stiffness or pain in the jaw.
- A persistent sore throat.
- A lump or bump that’s developed recently.
- Any sores or lesions that haven’t healed within two weeks.
- Trouble chewing or swallowing.
However, it’s important to note that there are many non-cancerous conditions that can look similar such as cold sores or benign lumps of fatty tissue. So don’t be alarmed if you notice something, just schedule a visit to be evaluated!
What Is a Screening Like?
One of the best things about these screenings is that they’re simple, fast, and non-invasive. Both a dentist and hygienist will start by visually examining your lips, cheeks, throat, palate, and under your tongue. They’ll also gently palpate your neck and under your jaw to see if there are any lumps, bumps, or tender areas.
If a dentist notices anything that looks suspicious, they’ll either ask you to return in two weeks for another look or refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. Either way, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing what’s happening with your oral health so you can take the necessary steps.
Treatment for oral cancer is very effective when it’s done in the early stages. And, with regular checkups, early detection is much easier!
About the Author
Dr. Gary Rosenfeld is a family dentist in Medford with 35 years of experience and a graduate of Columbia University Dental School. He and his staff understand how vital oral cancer screenings are and perform one for their patients at every checkup. If you have any questions about oral cancer or want to schedule an appointment, you can reach Dr. Rosenfeld via his website.