APRIL – ORAL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month & East Georgia Center for Oral & Facial Surgery want to help make you more aware of this dangerous cancer.
Prevalence
o There are over 49,000 cases of oral cancer diagnosed each year.
o Oral Cancer affects almost twice as many men as women.
Risk Factors
o An estimated 25 percent of oral cancer patients have no known risk factors
o Alcohol and tobacco remain the greatest risk factors.
o Infection with the sexually transmitted HPV16 virus has been linked to a subset of oral cancers.
o Prolonged sun or tanning bed exposure is a risk factor for lip cancer.
Possible Signs & Symptoms
While you may have no symptoms at all, you should see your dentist for an annual cleaning & checkup. Your dental hygienist & dentist should be doing a thorough oral cancer screening during your visit. Your dentist may refer you to an oral & maxillofacial surgeon should they see something that needs to be followed up with. These are some of the signs & symptoms you should be aware of:
o A sore on the lip or in the mouth that does not heal.
o A lump or thickening of the lips, gums or in the mouth.
o A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsils or lining of the mouth.
o Trouble chewing or swallowing or moving the tongue or jaw.
o Swelling of the jaw.
Early Detection
o As with any type of cancer or unusual sign or symptom, early detection is key to easier treatment and the greater chance of a cure.
o Performing a self-examination regularly increases the chance of identifying changes or new growths early.
o If you have risk factors, also see your oral and maxillofacial surgeon or dentist for an oral examination at least annually.
Sources: Oral Cancer Foundation, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, AAOMS.