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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Estela Pena, DDS
Oral Cancer Early Detection Is Key
Ryan Park Dentistry General and Cosmetic Dentistry

Oral Cancer Early Detection Is Key

There is recent good news about progress against cancer. It is now easier than ever to detect oral cancer early, when the opportunity for a cure is great. Currently only half of all patients diagnosed with oral cancer survive more than five years.
Each year 31,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer. Yet many people are unaware of the need for cancer screening and regular dental exams.

Importance of Regular Dental Check-ups
Regular dental check-ups, including an examination of the entire mouth, are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions. You may have a very small, but dangerous, oral spot or sore and not be aware of it.
In about 10% of patients, a flat, painless, white or red spot or a small sore is found. Although most of these are harmless, some are not. Harmful oral spots or sores often look identical to those that are harmless. If you have a sore with a likely cause, your dentist may treat it and ask you to return for re-examination.
Sometimes a spot or sore that looks harmless and does not have a clear cause is found. To ensure that a spot or sore is not dangerous your dentist may choose to perform a simple test, such as a brush biopsy, which usually is painless and can detect potentially dangerous cells when the disease is still at an early stage. If something that looks suspicious and dangerous is found, a scalpel biopsy may be recommended. This usually requires local anesthesia, and you may be referred to a specialist for further evaluation.
Symptoms of oral cancer include
A sore that bleeds easily or does't heal.
A color change of the oral tissues.
A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area.
Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips.
Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue.
A change in the way the teeth fit together.
Oral cancer often starts as a tiny, unnoticed white or red spot or sore anywhere in the mouth.
It can affect any area of the oral cavity including the lips, gum tissue, check lining, tongue and the hard or soft palate.
Oral cancer most often occurs in those who use tobacco in any form.
Alcohol use combined with smoking greatly increases risk.
Prolonged exposure to the sun increases the risk of lip cancer.
More than 25% of oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke and have no other risk factors.
Oral Cancer is more likely to strike after age 40.
Studies suggest that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may prevent the development of potentially cancerous lesions.
It is a good idea to consult with your dentist about oral cancer in order to help eliminate your risk factors and maintain your oral health for a long, happy life.
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