Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer and has the worst five-year survival rate of all major cancers. Yet with early diagnosis it can be cured. This disease often goes unnoticed because it usually starts painlessly. But it can be observed and we at Drummond Dental are in a unique front-line position to catch it early through painless oral cancer checkups during each of your regular examinations.
You may have noticed that we routinely evaluate your mouth including lips, cheek, tongue surface, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, the area of the throat at the back of the mouth including tonsils, and the base of your tongue.
What are we looking for? Any sore in your mouth that bleeds easily or does not heal, a color change of the oral tissue, a lump or thickening in the cheek, a painless white or red patch, rough spot, crust, or small eroded area, pain, tenderness, or numbness on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth. In short – any change that appears to be suspicious. The vast majority of abnormal sores are not cancerous. Still, if we do see anything irregular, we will recommend follow-up testing and that you visit your doctor, especially if you have any persistent difficulty with chewing, swallowing, numbness, and unintentional weight loss.
We should all be alert to signs of oral cancer, and check ourselves for symptoms. Here is the 1-Minute Home Protocol: every month, look at your lips and mouth for the signs I mentioned earlier: a sore that bleeds easily or does not heal, a color change, a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust, or small eroded area, pain, tenderness, or numbness.
Call us or your physician if you have any of these, and even if you don’t find anything, please keep your regular dental checkups.
How else can you help yourself? Avoid using all tobacco products, minimize alcohol, avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight, apply lip balm with sunscreen, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables which provide anti-cancer vitamins and antioxidants.
And don’t be nervous – you needn’t rely only on yourself. We are proud that we can serve as your first line of defense.
© Patient News