This month is Oral Cancer Awareness Month — a month-long dedication to increasing the public’s knowledge of this serious and scary disease. At our dental office in Belle Fourche, we’re all about doing whatever we can to help keep our neighbors healthy, so we’re spreading the word about just how serious oral cancer is, how to recognize the signs, and what you can do to reduce your risk.
Oral Cancer Statistics
The word “cancer” itself instills some fear in all of us. It’s a scary disease that affects millions of Americans every year. Oral cancer is no different. It’s a widespread problem that can take the lives of those affected. In fact, oral cancer kills one person every hour, every day annually. That’s more than 8,500 people each and every year. This year alone, more than 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Being aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer can save your life. However, many signs of oral cancer can resemble other non-serious oral health problems. So if you notice any of the signs below and they don’t go away, call your dentist in Belle Fourche as soon as possible to get checked out and ease your mind.
- Pain while swallowing, chewing, or speaking
- Changes in voice
- A sore or discoloration that doesn’t go away after two weeks
- A lump inside the mouth or neck
- Chronic bad breath
The most successful way to treat oral cancer is to diagnose it early. This is also one reason why you should see your dentist at least every six months.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Oral cancer can happen to anyone, but there are factors that can put someone at greater risk. Some we can control, others we cannot. Some risk factors are:
- Tobacco Use: 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users including those who smoke cigarettes, cigars, or use smokeless tobacco.
- Drinking Alcohol: Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
- Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
- Age: Those over the age of 50 are at increased risk of oral cancer.
At our Belle Fourche dental office, we care about keeping our neighbors healthy. If you have any questions, are concerned about your risk of oral cancer, or it’s been more than six months since you’ve seen a dentist, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us.