According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 42,000 people in the United States will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2013. To raise awareness among current patients and new patients, we have has declared December “Oral Cancer Awareness Month”.
Sure, the national Oral Cancer Foundation has an awareness month that takes place in April but heading into the holidays where people partake in many of the habits that can lead to oral cancers-smoking and drinking-we thought it important to create some additional awareness.
As part of Oral Cancer Awareness month, we will be speaking to patients about the behaviors that can lead to oral cancers, which includes, tongue, tonsillar, and throat cancer. Oral cancers can be genetic, but primarily people who smoke or use other tobacco products, drink alcohol or are exposed to the HPV-16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16), are at increased risk for developing the disease.
Just as we have done for the past 25 years, we will continue to provide an oral cancer screening exams as part of each comprehensive exam that includes examination of the inside part of the cheeks, roof of the mouth the back side and underneath the tongue. As part of their exam, our hygienists, as a result of current research findings, will palpate the lymph nodes located in your neck and underneath your jaw to make sure the usually soft nodes are not hard which can be sign of a problem.
As it is with any cancer, the earlier you detect it the faster you can treat it. And as the numbers indicate, oral cancers are treatable if detected soon enough and that’s why we are taking these extra steps to make our patients aware of this risk and be proactive by checking our patients annually.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation website, “When found at early stages of development, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 % survival rate. Unfortunately, the majority are found as late stage cancers, and this accounts for the very high death rate of about 43% at five years from diagnosis, and high treatment related morbidity in survivors.”
For more information, you can visit the Oral Cancer Foundation’s website at http://oralcancerfoundation.org/. you due for your next check-up? Please call 781-335-0604 to schedule an appointment.