Oral Cancer…Scary But Very Preventable

Just hearing the word “cancer” can be fear producing and something most of us don’t like to talk about. A visit to the dentist can be additionally scary and can complicate matters surrounding the discovery of oral cancer.

Approximately 37,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year; just over half will be alive five years later. Oral cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer and its high death rate is primarily due to its late discovery. If caught early, oral cancer is highly treatable. Twice yearly dental exams and cleanings are vitally important in the early detection, prevention and treatment of oral cancer.

oral cancerOral cancer is the growth of abnormal cells on any part of the mouth, lips, tongue, or gums. It can also occur on the lining of the cheeks and the roof of the mouth. Most oral cancers begin in the lining of the mouth or lips, which is made up of thin squamous cells.

Causes of oral cancer include:
• Tobacco use, in all forms, accounts for 90% of all oral cancers
• Alcohol use
• Marijuana use
• Exposure to UV light from the sun or the use of tanning beds
• Having some types of human papillomavirus (HPV)

Symptoms of oral cancer:
• Persistent tenderness, pain or numbness anywhere on your lips or in your mouth
• A change in your voice
• An earache that doesn’t go away
• Difficulty swallowing, chewing or moving your jaw or tongue
• Feeling like something is caught in your throat
• Red or white spotty patches on your tongue or in your mouth
• A lump or thickening in your cheek or neck
• A thick, rough spot or a small area in your mouth
• An irritation on your mouth or lip that bleeds easily and doesn’t heal

It is important to visit your dentist regularly to prevent oral cancer or catch it early.
An oral cancer screening with Dr. Peck includes an examination of your mouth and neck and possibly x-rays. Light-activated instruments are also available to assist in an early diagnosis.

Call Taylor Street Dental, today, for a for consultation: (413) 241-3264.

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