Oral Cancer Screening… safeguard your health
While the month of April is typically associated with long days, warm or rainy climate, and of course beautiful blooming flowers, there is another lesser known but equally important aspect of this month. Since 2003 the Month of April has been deemed as Oral Cancer Awareness Month.
As you may know, oral cancer is a particularly serious type of cancer that is concentrated within the oral cavity, where it primarily affects the lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat. Annually oral cancer causes approximately 7,500 deaths in the U.S. alone, often occurring in individuals 40 years of age and over, and is often directly linked to heavy alcohol and tobacco consumption.
Despite the obvious seriousness of the disease, the early signs and symptoms of oral cancer are actually quite minor. These symptoms may include; unusual lumps or swelling, oral bleeding, raspy voice, and the appearance unusually slow-healing mouth ulcers. Unfortunately the mild aspects of oral cancer end there, as the symptoms will become significantly more pronounced over time and eventually require numerous treatments and surgeries, and may ultimately result in disfigurement and even death.
Oral Cancer Screening: CAN save your life!
The procedure for receiving an oral cancer screening is not only simple and painless, but it may also save your life! Although oral cancer is extremely serious, it can easily be treated if detected within its early stages. As mentioned previously however due to the relatively benign nature of oral cancer’s early symptoms, these symptoms often go ignored, thus leading the cancer to go undiscovered until reaching the latter stages. This deception may in fact be the likely culprit for the high number of deaths attributed to oral cancer, thereby stressing just how important having regular dental checkups truly are. Generally most dental practitioners suggest that a patient should plan to receive a standard dental checkup every six months. This regular six month dental visit should be particularly prevalent among users of tobacco and alcohol, as the chronic use of tobacco and alcohol products increases the likelihood of developing oral cancer by almost exactly ten times compared to a non-user.
Related Article: The Dirty Dozen – 12 Symptoms that Might Signal Oral Cancer
While you may already know this, but oral cancer screenings are a standard part of receiving a regular dental checkup. This means that not only is your dentist checking for cavities on your teeth, but they are also simultaneously giving you an oral cancer screening as well. What you may not know however, is some of the amazing new technology being used in this process today. In giving an oral cancer screening, the dentist gives a visual exam of the patient’s mouth, watching for and making note of any unusual bumps, swelling, discoloration, etc. However thanks to the experts at the Forward Science Company, a new cutting edge technology known as the OralID, is now available to patients and practitioners alike. Using fluorescence based technology; the dentist is able to scan the patient’s mouth with a blue light, thus enabling the practitioner to better identify cancerous or pre-cancerous abscesses, lesions, ulcers, or other abnormalities. This allows your dentist to not only easily recognize any of the telltale signs of oral cancer, but also identify any potential GI tract issues that a patient may be facing as well.
What to keep in mind
While Oral Cancer remains a serious worldwide health concern, remember that there are numerous ways in which your dentist can help you if in fact you are having such concerns. So remember while the month of April may present you with many opportunities to stop and smell the flowers, it may also present you with the opportunity to make that all so important dental appointment and get an oral cancer screening, it could save your life.
Dr. Gary P. Skrobanek and his experienced, friendly team at GPS Dental offer affordable family dentistry and gentle dental care in the San Antonio, TX area. Our office is conveniently located and offers early morning appointment times Monday through Friday to meet your needs. At GPS Dental, we provide most dental services, from family and general dentistry to dental implants, sleep apnea, TMJ / TMD Treatment, cosmetic dentistry and much more. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Call us at (210) 633-3477 to make an appointment. Don’t delay, schedule today!