April is oral cancer awareness month!

Oral cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that has claimed millions of lives in the past. April is the time when healthcare professionals join hands with dentists to spread awareness about oral cancer and fight the disease.

An overview about oral cancer

Oral and oropharyngeal cancer (associated with the mouth and the upper throat) are collectively known to claim at least one life every hour worldwide. The fatality rate of oral cancer is particularly higher than other types of cancer because the symptoms of oral cancer often show up in later stages only. The earlier the cancer is detected, the chances of getting cured are significantly higher. Approximately 40% of patients with oral cancer fail to beat it within five years of being diagnosed, which is quite an alarming number.

What are the causes of oral cancer?

  • Tobacco use:Smoking or chewing tobacco and its products are one of the leading causes of oral cancer.
  • Alcohol:Smoking tobacco combined with alcohol consumption drastically increases the chances of developing oral cancer.
  • HPV:Human Papilloma Virus is the most prominent cause of oropharyngeal cancer.
  • UV exposure: Exposure to UV radiation from sunlight can cause cancer in the lips.

Watch out for these symptoms.

Individuals, especially those who smoke or chew tobacco, should be mindful of the following symptoms of oral cancer:

  • Sores on the soft inner lining of the mouth that does not go away.
  • Red or white patches that cause a lot of pain while brushing the teeth, eating food, or when touched.
  • Tenderness or numbness in the lips and other soft tissues.
  • Lumps or thickening of tissues that pain when squeezed.
  • Difficulty in chewing, swallowing food, moving the jaw, or even talking.
  • Discoloration of the soft tissues.

Factors that increase the risk

Studies conducted over the years have identified a number of factors that can influence and significantly increase the chances of developing oral cancer. Individuals above the age of 50 who are heavy drinkers and smokers stand a higher risk. In younger individuals, the threat posed by sexually transmitted HPV is comparatively higher. To stay on the safer side, it is best to get a thorough oral cancer screening test every year without fail, as early detection can help save lives. Also, avoiding the use of tobacco would be a healthy option not only to prevent cancer but for your overall well-being as well.

Please reach out to All Care Dentistry at (801) 266-1414 or schedule an appointment online to get yourself screened for oral cancer or to get any other oral condition treated by our excellent team of dental experts.

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