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Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and the Oral Cancer Foundation would like to invite everyone to join them in their national screening campaign to end oral cancer!

Oral Cancer awareness in the American public is low. Approximately 53,000 people in the U.S. will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer this year. 132 new people in the U.S. every day will be newly diagnosed with an oral cancer, and that one person every hour of the day, 24/7/365 will die from it.

Unfortunately at this time the majority are found as late-stage disease. This accounts for the very high death rate; about half those diagnosed will not survive more than five years. The good news is that a doctor or hygienist can see or feel the precancerous tissue changes which might lead to a cancer. The examination will only take 3 to 7 minutes of your time. Historically associated with tobacco, studies now show that HPV16, a sexually transmitted virus, is the fastest growing cause of oral cancers in the U.S. Oral cancer patients are increasingly young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals. Everyone over the age of 18 should be screened annually. The visual and tactile exam is inexpensive, painless and quick.

Who should get screened?

Every adult. Oral cancer can often be caught early, even as a pre-cancer. With early detection, survival rates are high and the side effects are from treatment are at their lowest. Like other screenings you engage in such as cervical, skin, prostate, colon and breast examinations, oral cancer screenings are an effective means of finding cancer at its early, highly curable stages. Make them part of your annual health check-ups.

What are the risk factors?

There are two distinct pathways by which most people come to oral cancer. One is through the use of tobacco and alcohol, a long term historic problem and cause, and the other is through exposure to the HPV16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16), which is now the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers in the US, and the same one, which is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women. The quickest growing segment of the oral cancer population are young, healthy, non-smokers due to the connection to this virus.

Early Indicators:

  • Red and/or white discolorations of the soft tissues of the mouth.

  • Any sore which does not heal within 14 days.

  • Hoarseness which lasts for a prolonged period of time.

Advanced Indicators:

  • A sensation that something is stuck in you throat.

  • Numbness in the oral region.

  • Difficulty in moving the jaw or tongue.

  • Difficulty in swallowing.

  • Ear pain which occurs on one side only.

  • A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, still does not heal.

  • A lump or thickening which develops in the mouth or on the neck.

Check Your Mouth

The Check Your Mouth™ Campaign is a public service effort created by The Oral Cancer Foundation, with the hopes of creating an informed public which is able to self discover abnormalities that may be dangerous. Their website shows in detail how to easily do a 5-10 minute routine self-discovery exam.

Source: The Oral Cancer Foundation