Oral cancer is a prevalent disease, and unfortunately, the number of cases diagnosed each year is rising steadily. The Oral Cancer Foundation states that in 2017, nearly 50,000 cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed.
There wasn’t much of a focus on oral cancer until actor Michael Douglas was diagnosed in 2010. His experience created awareness, but there are still a lot of misconceptions about the disease.
Why are oral cancer fatality rates so high?
It is not hard to detect or diagnose oral cancer. Fatality rates are so high because oral cancer often goes undiagnosed until it’s in the late stages. It is a particularly aggressive form of cancer, so an early diagnosis can save your life. With early detection and treatment, the 5-year survival rate is close to 90%.
I don’t smoke. Am I still at risk?
While smokers are at a high risk for oral cancer, heavy drinkers account for almost 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer. Another fast-growing pathway for these cancers is a strain of the human papillomavirus known as HPV16.
How can I tell if I have oral cancer?
The simple answer is that you probably can’t. You may notice an abnormality like white spots on your tongue, but it’s just as likely that you will have no noticeable symptoms at all.
A dentist is trained to look for signs of oral cancer and will perform a screening during every routine exam. If they do find something, they will immediately refer you to your primary doctor for further diagnosis and treatment.
Please Contact Us to Learn More
If you live in Delmar, NY and have additional questions about oral cancer, please call our dentist to arrange a consultation. Screening is nothing to be afraid of, and it just might save your life.