Of those diagnosed, roughly half will survive five years past their initial diagnosis. Survivors face an increased risk of a reoccurrence emerging in the decade after.
Why So Deadly?
Oral cancer is easy to miss. Early warning signs can be easy to overlook, and can be a small white or discolored spot in the mouth. There is often no pain associated with early-stage oral cancer.
Typically, patients do not have regular oral cancer screenings and only discover the problem once it has metastasized to a new location – commonly the lymph nodes in the neck. By this time, cancerous cells have spread and become much more challenging to combat.
With 30,000 new cases diagnosed each year, it’s important to have a dentist screen your mouth regularly. Early detection can bring that dismal 50% survival rate up to 90%.
Some factors do increase risk. Those over 40, smokers and ‘smokeless tobacco users’, and drinkers all have a higher chance of oral cancer. That doesn’t mean those without those risk factors can ignore the potential. A quarter of those diagnosed are less than 30 with no increased risk factors.
It takes just a minute or two to determine if your mouth holds cancerous cells. New technology available at your local cosmetic dentistry office offers a non-invasive, rapid exam with high accuracy.
The exam also helps uncover other oral problems that can result in poor chewing, talking, swallowing, and sleeping. As with many medical maladies, early detection is key to thorough treatment and the best outcomes.
Complete this non-invasive procedure during a routine visit to your cosmetic dentist. Sneak it in before or after teeth whitening session and give yourself peace of mind. The best defense against oral cancer is frequent screenings.