According to the American Dental Association, nearly 37,000 oral cancer cases are diagnosed each year. In one-fourth of patients, the cancer is fatal. There is some good news, however — finding and treating oral cancer early greatly increases your chances for survival.
When discovered early by your dentist, oral cancer maintains a 95% survival rate. Unfortunately, the majority of oral cancers aren’t discovered until it is too late, dropping the survival rate to 5%.
The simple solution to increasing your odds: don’t wait. An oral cancer screening often catches cancer in its early stages when it remains highly curable. In addition to asking about your medical history, dentists use a variety of techniques during oral cancer screenings, including visual inspection, x-ray and biopsy. Whether or not you have oral cancer, your dentist will help you to determine your current situation and potential risks.
Most dentists understand that — just like brushing and flossing your teeth — checking your mouth for oral cancer should be another part of your routine.
Some of the most common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Suspicious lumps or mouth sores
- A lump or thickening in your cheek
- Thick or slightly raised white patches on your tongue or gums
- Difficulty moving your jaw or tongue
- Bleeding or irritated gums
- Loose teeth
- A sore throat or feeling that something is caught in your throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Numbness of any area in your mouth
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your dentist immediately. Although these symptoms do not always indicate oral cancer, a proper oral cancer screening from your dentist will help you to be sure. Talk with your dentist about checking your mouth for oral cancer as part of your routine exam.
To learn more about "The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings" or our Grand Rapids dentist Dr. Kent Wildern and the services we offer, please contact us here or call us at (616) 364-8716. Kent Wildern DDS and his dental team strive to be the very best at providing our patients with optimal care while making them feel right at home.