Close to 43,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 8,000 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 43,250 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years.
In case you didn’t know, April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Fabgrandpa is an Oral Cancer Survivor, since 2001. The treatment for this awful disease is surgery, radition, and or chemotherapy. Fabgrandpa had the surgery, and then 37 radiation treatments in 2001. Luckily he did not have to go through chemo. Not every patient with Oral Cancer is as lucky as my husband is. Some of them die, some of them have disfiguring scars, and others lose the ability to eat using their mouth, and have to be fed through a tube for the rest of their lives.
The key to preventing a death, disfigurement, and a feeding tube is early detection of Oral Cancer. One of the easiest ways to find Oral Cancer is to just look in your mouth and nose. Ask your dentist to do a routine check for Oral Cancer when you go for your regular checkups.
Great Expressions Dental Centers in the Atlanta area will be offering free oral cancer screenings to the public throughout the entire month of April – Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Call them today to make an appointment for your free exam.
Here are ways to help prevent Oral Cancer:
- Avoid smoking and any type of tobacco product. According to the National Cancer Institute, tobacco use is the leading cause of oral cancer. Tobacco includes cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco. Not only can use of these products cause oral cancer in the mouth but also parts of the throat.
- Limit alcohol use. Using alcohol is a large risk factor for oral cancer. The more alcoholic drinks consumed daily, the higher the risk of oral cancer. The risk is about twice as high in people who have three to four alcoholic drinks per day compared to those who don’t drink alcohol, according to the National Cancer Institute
- Sun exposure. Repeated exposure to sunlight may increase the risk of lip cancer, which most often occurs on the lower lip. Applying chapstick with sunscreen everyday will help prevent sun damage and cancer.
- Regular dentist visits and self-examinations. Scheduling your six month exams is a great way to keep a healthy mouth. The dentist is the first line of defense in identifying dental health problems that may be associated with oral cancer, so it’s important to meet with them regularly and ask for an oral cancer screening. In addition, be sure to take a few minutes each month for a self-exam to see if you can see or feel anything suspicious including lumps; bumps; tender areas; and any white, red or grey patches. If these symptoms are found, contact your dentist immediately.
- Brushing and flossing daily. Brushing twice a day with a fluoride based toothpaste is critical in removing bacteria that causes cavities, gingivitis and bad breath. Flossing sometimes is easily forgotten, however, if you don’t floss, you will miss cleaning 35 percent of your tooth surfaces. Flossing in the evening will remove bacteria that like to feed on food particles throughout the day and prevent bad breath.
- Spotting early and advanced indicators. Early indicators of oral cancer include: red or white discolorations of the soft tissues of the mouth, any sore that does not heal within 14 days and hoarseness which lasts for a prolonged period of time. Advanced indicators of oral cancer include: a sensation that something is stuck in your throat, numbness in the oral region, difficulty in moving the jaw or tongue, difficulty in swallowing, ear pain in one side only, or a lump that develops in the mouth or on the neck.
To get more information about Oral Cancer, its symptoms, and treatments options, check out the Oral Cancer Foundation website.
In help you get a good start on oral health, GEDC is sponsoring a giveaway of a great package of dental products. One winner will receive a package containing a Great Expressions Dental Centers tote bag; a Phillips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush; a Phillips Sonicare Air Floss; a travel bag with toothpaste, a toothbrush, a toothbrush holder, and floss; a Zoom Tooth Whitening Pen, a water bottle, and a lip balm.
Enter to win this package using the Giveaway Tools entry form below: