Today I write about a personal topic and the importance of Oral Cancer screenings. When you visit us at PDM Family Dental, we are checking for not only teeth and gum health but we are also we are screening for signs of Oral Cancer. Oral cancer is a highly preventable disease and with awareness, early diagnosis and treatment, it can be treatable with better prognosis for the patient. There are about 54,000 cases of Oral Cancer diagnosed a year in the United States and rates have increased by 15 % in the last few decades.
Some of the risk for Oral Cancer is as follows:
-Males are more likely to present with Oral Cancer
-Prior cancer history
-Family history of cancer
-Poor nutrition-low diet in fruit and vegetables
-Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
-Weakened immune system
-Genetics syndromes: Fanconi Anemia and Dyskeratosis Congenita
-Poor oral health
-Graft vs host disease
Squamous cell carcinoma (SSC) is the most common oral cancer, and it contributes to 90% of oral cancer cases. Oral cancer caused by HPV has been on the rise over the last few years. As per the CDC, HPV causes 70% of oropharyngeal cancers in the United States. Lesions can be found on the tongue, palate, floor of the mouth, back of the throat and in the tissue lining gums and teeth.
Below are some of the signs of Oral Cancer:
-Pain in tongue or the jaw
-Persistent white or red lesion, staying longer than 2 weeks.
-Lump or thickening
-Difficulty in moving the tongue or jaw
-Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
-Change in voice
-Earache on one side
-Feeling like something is caught in the throat
Treatment of cancer usually involves, surgical removal of the tumor, and lymph nodes. Also, radiation and chemotherapy to help in cases with chances of reoccurrence.
Oral cancer can be aggressive and lead to death if cancer becomes metastatic. The key is visiting us at PDM Family dental and getting your regular checkups, paying attention to any of signs or symptoms, getting HPV vaccination, avoiding the risk factors, getting biopsies in time to help increase survival rates.
This is a topic close to me on a personal and professional level, as I lost my brother, Dr. Manu Dua who was also a Dentist to Oral cancer at the age of 34. He wrote a series of blogs that are now out as a book, called Life Interrupted, Dr. Dua’s Survival Guide, available on Amazon. It is his insights to life as he battled cancer and faced his own mortality. I hope that you do read the book and be aware of Oral Cancer’s signs and symptoms. Encourage your family to do the same, you may help save a life.