April is Oral Cancer Awareness month. At Shaffer Dental Excellence, we hope to raise awareness of oral cancer and oral cancer screening throughout April.
The American Cancer Society estimates 53,000 individuals will develop oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in 2019, and 10,860 people will succumb to these diseases. These cancers begin in the mouth cavity and inside the upper throat. They most commonly develop on the tongue, tonsils, oropharynx, gums, floor of the mouth, lips, salivary glands, roof of the mouth, and can also develop in other parts of the mouth and throat. Untreated, these cancers can spread throughout the body and lead to death. When detected early, however, the survival rates for these types of cancers are quite high at 80% to 90%.
At Schaffer Dental Excellence, Dr. Schaffer performs cancer screenings as a part of our patients’ regular dental exams. He inspects the interior of each’s patients’ mouth visually, looking for signs of discoloration, lesions, or other changes in appearance. Our dentist also gently palpates each patients’ neck, gums, cheeks, and mouth cavity, feeling for the growth of potential tumors. If we detect anything unusual, we will recommend you for further testing.
Most dental patients only visit their dentist once or twice a year, which means cancerous growths in their early stages could go undetected for months. The Oral Cancer Foundation has started the Check Your Mouth campaign to raise awareness about oral cancer and to educate people about checking themselves for signs of oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers. On their website, they provide instructional videos and other tools to assist people in regularly screening themselves in order to ensure early detection of these types of cancers.
We encourage you to visit the Oral Cancer Foundation’s website and perform regular self-checks. If you ever notice any changes in the appearance of your mouth or detect the development of any tumor-like growths, we urge you to contact our office or your regular medical doctor right away to determine whether further testing might be necessary.
This April, we invite you to observe Oral Cancer Awareness Month with us by performing a self-check. Contact our office to schedule your next dental exam and oral cancer screening today.