What You Need to Know About Oral Awareness Month?

April is usually the month for oral cancer awareness, and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons encourages dentists as well as other professionals to raise awareness of this deadly disease.

The cases of oral cancer have increased drastically, and if we are not careful, they are only going to grow even more. That’s why we have taken action to educate you more about oral cancer so that you can help detect it as early as possible. The earlier it is detected, the better.

Together, we have an opportunity to reduce fatality cases of oral cancer. If we know what mouth cancer symptoms and know the causes, maybe it can help save some lives.

Facts about Oral Cancer

  • Most of the fatality cases dues to oral cancer are because of late diagnosis
  • Over 40% of people diagnosed with oral cancer will be dead in the next five years.
  • The death rate of oral cancer is as high as breast, colon, prostate, liver, and cervical cancer, if not more.
  • HPV (human papillomavirus) is the fastest-growing risk of oral cancer
  • Over 90% of people affected by oral cancer are 45+ years old
  • More men die of oral cancer than women
  • Men of African ancestry and above 45 years are at a very high risk of oral cancer

Warning Signs of Oral Cancer

During the oral cancer awareness month, we encourage both self and professional exams for oral cancer.

As you can see, most deaths are due to late diagnoses. If you can identify signs of oral cancer early enough, the chances of surviving or curing it are high. Some signs you should be on the lookout for include:

  • White or red patches behind or in your mouth.
  • Mouth sores that bleed easily and won’t heal or heals then come back later.
  • Sudden lumps on your neck, the floor of your mouth, or throat.
  • Pain and tenderness on your gums and teeth
  • Discomfort or difficulties while you are swallowing food
  • Visible change of tissues in your mouth
  • Change in the fit of your dentures
  • Declined ability to perform simple tasks such as opening your jaw or chewing food.

Please keep a two-week timeline as you asses these signs. Most of these signs are also signs for other conditions, so you can only start worrying if they are consistent. Visit a Shelby Township dentist right away if you find any of those signs consistent.

How is Oral Cancer Treated?

Before the dentist diagnoses you with oral cancer, he or she will conduct a series of oral cancer screenings. If it is confirmed, then you can design a treatment plan. These plans are usually determined by where your cancer originated, where it spread, and how severe it is. Each patient has different treatment goals, so the plans are different.

The disease can be treated with one therapy or combination of therapies. It all depends on where cancer started and how far it has spread.

If it hasn’t advanced so much, surgery can be used to treat it. Surgery is also used to treat recurrent cancers, but this time it is done with a combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or targeted therapy. Some of the surgeries usually conducted during these treatments include:

  • Neck dissection is used to remove nodes on one side of a neck if cancer spread there.
  • Tumor resection which is used to remove a tumor as well as the surrounding tissues
  • Mohs micrographic surgery which is usually recommended for lip cancer
  • Glossectomy. This one is conducted to remove a part or all of your tongue during the tongue cancer treatment.
  • Mandibulectomy is conducted to remove a part or all of your lower jawbone.

Modern technology has ensured that oral cancer does not mean the end of your normal life. For example, if you get your tongue removed, it can be reconstructed using tissues from other parts of your body.

Side Effects of Oral Cancer Treatment

Oral cancer is a deadly disease, and its treatment comes along with several side effects. Some of these effects include:

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Taste changes
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea

The severity of these side effects varies from one patient to another. They are usually affected by the type of treatment (s), and the stage of the disease one is going through. Some side effects can last for a few weeks, while others can go for months.

William G. Ziecina D.D.S

You can count on us if you are looking for oral cancer screenings and treatment. We are open on Saturdays if you are looking for a dentist open on Saturday. Book an appointment now!

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