In respect to April being Oral Cancer Awareness month, our goal is to give you the facts and details of some crucial information regarding oral cancer. Our hope is that by raising awareness it can lead to a healthier lifestyle and knowing what to do in an instance that it may affect you or a loved one. Just the thought of any type of cancer is horrifying to think about let alone talk about, but it IS necessary to know the details of how to look for signs, the risks and statistics, and what you can do to prevent it.
What Is Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is cancer that starts anywhere in the mouth, including the lips. It can affect your chewing, swallowing, and even talking. Luckily, when found early, oral cancer can be treated easily and the treatment can then be fairly successful. Your routine checkups at the dentist play a huge part in this. Dentists are trained to keep a look out for anything suspicious in your mouth and if you are going regularly (every 6 months) they will be able to notice any differences that raise a red flag.
Risk Factors & Statistics
Now that we know what oral cancer is exactly, we need to know what causes it and what are the chances of getting it. These statistics come straight from the Oral Cancer Foundation and they are quite alarming. These are not meant to frighten you, but rather inspire a healthy lifestyle and raise awareness.
- Around 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed and it will cause almost 10,000 deaths JUST THIS YEAR.
- Only slightly more than half (57%) of the diagnosed cases will be alive in 5 years.
- Roughly 90% of diagnosed oral cancer patients are people who use tobacco products.
- Smokers are 6x more likely to get it than nonsmokers.
- Smokeless tobacco users are 50x more likely to have oral cancer than those who don’t use tobacco.
- Those who drink heavily and use tobacco are at high risk- about 75% to 80% of those who have oral cancer drink alcohol.
Signs & Symptoms Of Oral Cancer
This by no means is an exhaustive list of the symptoms that come with having oral cancer, but they are some common signs that you should be paying attention to. Even if you aren’t sure about something causing irritability in your mouth, it’s always a good idea to talk to a professional about it and have them check your mouth- better to be safe than sorry.
- Sores in your mouth that don’t go away or heal even when the best of care is taken. This is probably one of the most common signs.
- Your ability to chew, swallow, or talk is uncomfortable or hindered by pain that doesn’t go away.
- A white, black, or red patch on your gums, tongue, or throat.
- Relentless bad breath.
Self-Examining Your Mouth
So, what are you supposed to do between your visits at the dentist and how exactly do you know what you are looking for when you are doing a self-examination? Here’s some things too look for (Fast Forward to the 9 Minute mark):
This is one of the more important sections in this article- what preventative measures to take to lessen your chances of getting oral cancer. Having a healthy lifestyle will not only help prevent you and your family from developing cancer, but also increase your quality of life by having more energy and just feeling great in general- who wouldn’t want that for themselves and their family? Here are a few ways to avoid those risk factors and start living your best life:
- Eating your fruits and veggies- At least 5 servings a day!
- Doing your routine dental visits every 6 months and examining your mouth yourself in between checkups.
- Last, but definitely not least, quit your tobacco and alcohol habits!
We hope that with our article today we have helped shed some light on Oral Cancer and give you the vital information you need to know about it. The most important thing to take away from this today is to realize the value of your routine dental checkups and making sure you pass this knowledge on to others who can then, in turn, use it for themselves and others. Oral cancer is no joke and the statistics don’t lie! We have provided a few preventative actions you can take to help avoid this disease and truly hope the seriousness of oral cancer is recognized.