51,540 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Another 10,030 people will lose their battle with this disease. That equates to roughly 1 person per hour.
With statistics like that, you can’t afford to take chances. The best way to protect yourself from a diagnosis is to get checked regularly. Your dentist should offer an oral cancer screening during each routine check-up.
A lot of us think screening for oral cancer isn’t necessary on our wellness to-do list. We’re here to show you just why this needs to happen whenever you visit your dentist.
Unnoticed by Patients
One of the primary scares of oral cancer is it’s the most dangerous in its early stages. It has a tendency of developing while producing little-to-no symptoms for patients.
Because of this, it’s much more likely for this cancer to spread throughout the body. People with this disease are 20x more likely to develop a second cancer.
Often times, people only discover they have it after it’s spread to a second location. Most commonly, oral cancer moves to the lymph nodes of the neck. This is a much more serious prognosis than if it were found in the oral region.
Screening for Oral Cancer is Easy and Inexpensive
You should make a habit of incorporating an oral exam into your regular check-up. It’s fast, it doesn’t cost you anything, and you’re already at the office, so it’s convenient.
The American Dental Association (ADA) has a protocol for screening oral cancer. Your dentist will conduct a neck and head examination to look for irregular activity.
Oral cancer develops in the tonsillar region and the base of the tongue, most frequently. So, you’ll be checked for an ulcerated mass or irregular mucosal change.
They’ll also probably inquire about your alcohol and tobacco use/history. That’s because the association of these substances with oral cancer is incredibly high.
Very High Death Rate
Unfortunately, those with oral cancer often don’t find out until it’s too late. The death rate of this disease is abnormally high because patients tend to delay.
Currently, the U.S. does not have a program that mandates the screening of oral cancer. Because of this, it’s often placed on the backburner, given very low priority.
HPV16 is another large contributor to the high death rate. This virus develops the in the oropharynx, tonsils, and base of the tongue. For that reason, it goes unseen since patients aren’t conducting a thorough check.
Get Screened Today
Screening for oral cancer is not only easy and convenient, but it’s essential to your well-being. Without a routine check-up, you could be at a dangerously high risk and not even know it.
At Collaborative Dental, we recognize the importance of oral cancer screening. We work to protect the oral health of our patients, so we recommend regular check-ups.