By now you’ve probably heard that oral cancer cases are on the rise. In fact, thousands of cases are diagnosed every week, and more and more of those people involve younger adults. The cause isn’t directly related to alcohol or tobacco consumption, but other factors like HPV can increase a person’s likelihood to develop oral cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates about 30,000 new cases are found each and every year.
The best way to combat oral cancer is through early diagnosis and early treatment. You may not know it, but your dentist is most likely already performing a thorough oral cancer screening at every routine dental appointment that you have. The earlier these abnormal tissues can be identified, the better your prognosis is! Abnormal tissues or precancerous tissues can look red, white, raised, have irregular borders, lumped, or like sores that do not heal after 2 weeks.
How often should you have an oral cancer screening? At least twice each year! By the time many people find their own cancerous tissue, it is often too late for minimal treatment to be effective. Seeing your dentist twice each year for routine examinations, cleanings or x-rays is an effective way to ensure that you don’t have a cancerous condition developing that you don’t even know about. Your dentist will look under and along your tongue, in the floor of your mouth, inside the cheeks and lips, and even along your lymph nodes of the head and neck. If a suspicious area is found, your dentist may simply want to monitor it for a couple of weeks, or take a biopsy just to be safe.
An entire cancer check takes just a few minutes to perform and is one of the most important parts of every dental check-up! Don’t delay any longer; schedule your appointment today.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV, Gilreath Dental Associates
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