April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month
“April Showers bring May flowers” is not the only talking point for this month. It’s a time during which we highlight a growing concern – Oral Cancer. So important is this health issue, April has been designated as Oral Cancer Awareness Month.
This is a focus that we do not take lightly. Did you know that when you come for your regular dental hygiene visit that Dr. Hochberg and Dr. Diora include an oral cancer screening as part of your examination? They are looking for the visual signs that might indicate a potential problem. The Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) statistics show that in 2016 almost 50,000 will be diagnosed and an estimated 9,500+ will die from this disease. What may surprise you is that oral cancer it is not limited to those who are smokers or heavy users of alcohol. In fact, the fastest growing group where the OCF is seeing a rise in statistics is among those who are young, are not smokers and appear to be in good health. This has been attributed to a sexually transmitted disease, the HPV virus, and is the leading cause of a cancer that occurs in the back of the mouth (oropharyngeal cancer).
What are some things I should be aware of?
Everyone, at every age, should be aware of any changes that occur. Should you notice any of the following signs or symptoms and they persist over a few weeks, a visit is recommended:
- Patches in your mouth that are red, white or in combination (speckled)
- Tissue that appears to be thickening, rough areas, lumps or spots that look or feel crusty
- A change in your voice, hoarseness or a sore throat that doesn’t resolve
- Unexplained bleeding in your mouth
- Problems with speaking, chewing or swallowing, moving your tongue or jaw
- Loss of feeling, pain or tenderness in any areas of your face, neck or in your mouth
- Unusual or dramatic loss of weight
Be vigilant about your health. Maintain a schedule of regular dental hygiene visits and when something doesn’t seem right, don’t wait! Share your concerns with your healthcare providers. Being proactive so that problems are detected early is so essential – it helps to save lives!
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