“Every hour, 24 hours a day, 365-days-a-year, someone dies of oral or oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the back of the oral cavity and upper throat). Yet if oral cancer is detected and treated early, treatment-related problems are reduced, and survival rates may increase,” reports the Oral Cancer Foundation. “This year an estimated 54,600 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. Of those individuals, 43 percent will not survive longer than five years, and many who survive will suffer from long-term problems. . . The death rate associated with oral and oropharyngeal cancers remains exceptionally high because they are routinely discovered late in development.”
Oral Cancer Awareness Month is recognized annually by a host of national health and dental organizations concerned about oral cancer to make the public aware that early detection can decrease morbidity and increase long-term survival.
This spotlight on oral cancer is important to Northeast Delta Dental because we have both your oral and overall health in mind. Dentists are at the forefront of health care professionals who can detect oral cancer early during their exams. Our dental plans encourage semiannual preventive dental office visits so that more people will be examined by their dentists regularly.
The Oral Cancer Foundation gives a list of symptoms that mouth and throat cancers may cause, which include pain, soreness, swelling and trouble chewing, swallowing or moving the jaw or tongue. Find more information at: April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month 2023 – Oral Cancer Foundation | Information and Resources about Oral Head and Neck Cancer. It’s crucial to see a doctor or dentist if any of these conditions last more than two or three weeks so that the cause can be identified and treated, if necessary.
Risk factors for oral cancer are individual, but some can be reduced by habit changes. If you don’t already practice the following habits, they may lower the risks of oral cancers:
- Avoid all tobacco use, including e-cigarettes.
- If drinking alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Use lip balm with sunscreen to protect lips.
- Routinely self-screen for signs and symptoms of oral cancer by checking your mouth, lips and tongue for changes.
- Visit your dentist regularly for a routine dental checkup, which includes an oral cancer screening.
An oral cancer examination is typically painless, takes only a few minutes and can detect early signs of cancer. If we administer your dental benefits, your dentist may evaluate risk for oral cancer during a Health through Oral Wellness® (HOW®) risk assessment. Learn more about HOW® at Health through Oral Wellness.com.
Be vigilant. As the American Cancer Society reminds us, “Finding cancer early, when it’s small and hasn’t spread, often allows for more successful treatment options.”