According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 34,000 Americans will learn that they have oral or pharyngeal cancer in 2008. Even more shocking is the fact that only one half will be alive 5 years after the diagnosis. According to the OCF:
If you expand the definition of oral cancers to include cancer of the larynx, for which the risk factors are the same, the numbers of diagnosed cases grow to 41,000 individuals, and 12,500 deaths per year in the US alone.
The high mortality rate associated with oral cancer is often due to the fact that it is frequently discovered late in development, often after the cancer has already spread.
It is important to get screed for oral cancer on a yearly basis, and if you exhibit any of the following symptoms, as presented by the OCF, to get screened immediately:
- A sore or lesion in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks.
- A lump or thickening in the cheek.
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth.
- A sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue.
- Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth.
- Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable.
If cancer is indeed detected there are any number to treatment options, from surgery to radiation. It is important to remember that seeing your dentist on a regular basis is not only important on a cosmetic level, but as you just read, it could help save your life!