April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Cancer is something that has touched most of our lives. Approximately 48,250 people in the U.S. will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer this year. As part of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, many dentists in Knoxville are trying to raise awareness of the risks and symptoms of this terrible disease.
Oral cancer refers to cancer found in any part of the mouth, including cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks and floor of the mouth. Many of the symptoms are painless and could go undetected by the patient. Symptoms include:
- White or red patches inside the mouth or on the lips
- Swelling, lumps, bumps, rough spots or eroded areas on the lips or inside the mouth
- Unprovoked bleeding in the mouth
- Unexplained numbness or loss of feeling in mouth, face or neck
- Sores in the mouth that do not heal within 14 days
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue
Smoking and tobacco use are the two major risk factors. However, the fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients is young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals. This is because of the connection between oral cancer and the HPV virus. Let’s summarize some risks:
- Age: The disease usually occurs over the age of 40
- Gender: Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancers
- Lifestyle: Tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco, and heavy alcohol use
- Family or personal history: Those who have had oral cancer previously are at an increased risk of developing another oral cancer
- Excessive sun exposure
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
Our hope to save lives is with professional involvement and public awareness. As with many health problems, early detection is needed to save lives. If you notice anything strange or unusual in your mouth, talk to your dentist about a fast, painless oral cancer screening. Most dentists in Knoxville provide this service to their patients.
Cancerous growths may be detected on routine xrays. The may also be found during a comprehensive examination of the oral soft tissue. That is just another reason to see your dentist every six months. Our dental office incorporates oral cancer screenings into every new patient visit. Currently we provide a new patient appointment for $125. For this price you get an exam, cleaning, xrays and oral cancer screening. For patients with insurance these services may not cost you a penny out of pocket.
Moral of the story: Find a dentist in Knoxville and get checked out today!