The Oral Cancer Foundation predicts that 42,000 Americans will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Oral cancer is the most common cancer affecting the head and neck. Common names for it include mouth cancer, tongue cancer, tonsil cancer and throat cancer. This includes the cancers that occur inside the mouth, at the back of the mouth and throat and on the exterior lip. There are two pathways by which most people develop oral cancer. Tobacco and alcohol use have been the most common denominators oral cancer patients. A newly identified etiology is through exposure to the human papilloma virus version 16 (HPV-16) which is the same virus responsible for the majority of cervical cancers in women.
The death rate associated with this type of cancer has been particularly high. This is because, while it is relatively easy to discover or diagnose, it is not discovered until late in its development. Many times, oral cancer is only discovered after the cancer has metastasized to another location. The prognosis then become less positive than when it is caught in a localized intra-oral area.
You and your dentist are the first line of defense in early detection of the disease. The Bearable Dentistry dentists are trained to identify abnormalities in the mouth and throat. They provide each patient an oral cancer screening when a dental exam is performed. Drs. Schiavoni, Weitz, and Sept include the oral cancer screening in their exam. There is no invasive technique used in the exam as it is a visual evaluation along with palpation of the neck to check for unusual swelling. The Bearable Dentistry dental hygienists are trained to look for and identify suspicious lesions in the mouth as well.
Besides a routine visit to your family dentist for regular care of your teeth, an oral cancer screening can identify oral cancers at the earliest stages, resulting in the best prognosis for cure and long-term survival. Be aware of changes in your oral environment and, if you notice changes, bring them to the attention of a qualified dental professional for examination.
We look forward to seeing you at your next visit to Bearable Dentistry. There’s no need to wait until your next regularly scheduled cleaning. Make an appointment any time you have a dental or oral concern.