Did you know that April is National Oral Cancer awareness month? Oral cancer is the collective term used for cancers in the head and neck region of the body. Doctors and health care workers around the globe are trying to create as much awareness regarding oral cancer as possible. This is largely because when compared to the death rate of other cancers, such as cervical cancer and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the death rate of oral cancers is strikingly higher. The primary reason for this is due to the late diagnosis of oral cancer. During the initial stages of oral cancer there are no symptoms like pain. Therefore, people typically do not present for treatment. It is only when oral cancer metastasizes (spreads) to the rest of the body that people experience pain and inform their doctors.
You are at an increased risk of developing oral cancer if the following apply to you-
Oral cancer symptoms
Individuals must be aware of the general symptoms caused during the initial phases of cancer so that he/she can know what to look for. Identification of these symptoms early on is critical so that this can be reported to your dentist as early as possible. A few of the important symptoms are listed below:
Upon noticing any of these symptoms you should inform your dentist at the earliest opportunity. After an initial exam in order to make a correct diagnosis, your dentist will send a small biopsy of tissue to the lab where the cells are examined in detail. In the event that the tissue is deemed cancerous, treatment for oral cancer may be surgical, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a combination of all three.
An important way to increase overall oral health is by scheduling routine visits to your family dentist. This way your dentist can note even the slightest, initial changes in your mouth and treat you accordingly. This small step taken by you can save your life!