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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

This April marks the 19th annual Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Innovative Implant and Oral Surgery joins the nation’s top dental associations – including the Academy of General Dentistry, and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons – to remind the public that screenings are especially important in reducing the risk of health problems and mortality for this common cancer.

Statistics about Oral Cancer in America

How common is oral cancer in America? Well, consider this:

  • This year, 51,550 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed. (That’s 132 people a day!)
  • Every hour – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – someone dies of cancer in the mouth or upper throat.
  • Men are twice as likely as women to develop oral or oropharyngeal cancer.
  • The average age at diagnosis is 62, but over a quarter of new cases occur in people under 55.

Prognosis for Oral Cancer

Of the 51,550 people diagnosed with oral cancer this year, 40 percent will not survive another five years. Those who do survive may suffer from facial disfigurements, as well as difficulty speaking and eating.

The death rate remains high because these cancers are routinely diagnosed in late stage development. For instance, five-year survival rates for lip cancer increase from 24% in late stage to 92% in early stage.

Are You at Risk for Oral Cancer?

The Oral Cancer Foundation recommends annual cancer screenings every year after age 18 – or earlier if you are a teenager who smokes. Fortunately, oral cancer screenings can be done non-invasively with a combination of visual inspection and patient health questionnaire.

A number of factors can increase your risk of oral cancer, including but not limited to:

  • A heavy drinking habit
  • Smoking tobacco products
  • Age over 50
  • Exposure to HPV16 virus

Early Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Patients who smoke or drink heavily should report the following symptoms to a dental professional if they do not improve or disappear within two or three weeks:

  • Sore, non-healing ulcers (including those underneath dentures)
  • Red, white, or black discoloration of soft tissue
  • Abnormality that bleeds when touched
  • Lumps or hard spots along the border of the tongue
  • Raised growths, thickenings, or lumps
  • A painless, firm lump felt on the outside of the neck

Patients who may not have a history of smoking or drinking, but who may have been exposed to HPV, should report:

  • Persistent hoarseness or sore throat
  • Constant coughing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A painless, firm lump felt on the outside of the neck

Where to Get Oral Cancer Screening in Bucks County, PA

We care about your long-term health at Innovative Implant and Oral Surgery. That’s why we provide oral cancer screenings in both our Feasterville and Newtown offices. In addition to aiding in diagnosis, we can help you rebuild your mouth during cancer treatment, so you can continue to look, talk, and feel like yourself. We perform all routine and advanced oral surgery services so there is no need to delay. Contact us to set up your screening.