Cancer. We hear about it almost every day, whether in the paper, on the news, or by word of mouth. Rarely do we acknowledge that cancer can affect us personally. This frightening disease comes in various forms. Commonly talked about types are lung cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and breast cancer. Not many know about oral cancer. Do not let the lack of awareness fool you; oral cancer should be taken very seriously. According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, over forty-three thousand Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year; of those, 8,000 will result in death. In fact, its five-year mortality rate is higher than both cervical and prostate cancer.
The good news regarding oral cancer is that if it is properly diagnosed, the cure rate is 80-90%. Unfortunately, detecting the disease is often missed. To the naked eye, signs and symptoms of oral cancer are hard to recognize. Simple symptoms include bad breath, tooth loosening, tongue problems, or sensory loss of the face.
More detailed symptoms consist of the following:
. Sore, lump, or ulcer on the lip or in the mouth that does not heal
. White or red path on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth
. Unusual bleeding, pain, or numbness in the mouth
. Oral pain that does not go away or a feeling that something is caught in the throat
. Difficulty or pain with chewing or swallowing
. Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable
There are five stages of Oral Cancer:
. Stage I. The cancer is no more than 2 centimeters and has not spread to lymph nodes in the area.
. Stage II. The cancer is more than 2 centimeters but less than 4 centimeters and has not spread to lymph nodes in the area.
. Stage III. Either of the following may be true – the cancer is more than 4 centimeters. The cancer is any size but has spread to only one lymph node on the same side of the neck as the cancer.
. Stage IV. Any of the following may be true:
– The cancer has spread to tissues around the lip or oral cavity; the lymph nodes in the area may or may not contain cancer.
– The cancer is any size and has spread to more than one lymph node on the same side of the neck as the cancer, to lymph nodes on one or both sides of the neck, or to any lymph node that measures more than 6 centimeters.
. Recurrent. The cancer has returned after it has been treated. It may come back in the lip and oral cavity or in another part of the body.
How do you find out if you have Oral Cancer?
As previously stated, the signs and symptoms are not easy to identify, so if you suspect its presence you can take an Oral Cancer Screening Test. This is done by the doctor looking at the tissue for any visible problems using a special light. Locally, Village Dental gives this screening to its patients at both their New Patient Exam and their annual exam.
Remember, the high mortality rate associated with oral cancer is due to late stage diagnosis. Oral Cancer Screening Tests can help out with this. One of Village Dental’s patients backs up this statement.
Testimonial Story: The patient was seen in October for a new patient exam. Dr. Hall saw something abnormal on the panoramic x-ray. Because of this Dr. Hall stopped the New Patient exam and urged the patient to see an Oral Surgeon. The patient was diagnosed with Stage IV of Oral Cancer. The patient went to surgery unfortunately losing his right eye and all his upper right teeth in the process. Not only this, but the patient had to have muscle from his stomach to be transplanted into his cheek. This patient was unaware there was an Oral Cancer Screening Test before going to Village Dental. This patient was not offered this exam at his previous dentist. In fact, when he went to his previous dentist regarding the pain, the dentist told him he had an impacted wisdom tooth that needed to be removed. The patient was also having problems in his right eye. It was not until the patient had his New Patient exam at Village Dental that he discovered his Oral Cancer diagnosis. He is very happy with Village Dental’s results. Their exam is the reason he is alive today. Taking an Oral Cancer Screening Test earlier in the process could have saved him his right eye and many teeth.
Village Dental provides its patients with the highest quality care.
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