Oral cancer is a very serious disease that affects thousands of Americans every year. While it may not be talked about as often as other cancers, it’s just as scary and can take the lives of those who get it. At our Belle Fourche dental office, we take each April to talk about the importance of early detection, recognizing the signs, and knowing what puts you at increased risk.
Oral Cancer by The Numbers
The number of Americans who get oral cancer continues to grow every year. In 2018, the American Cancer Society estimates that over 51,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer. Another 10,000 will die from it. But thanks to advancements in early detection and treatment, survival rates are high if it’s caught in the early stages.
Some Signs of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer symptoms are often overlooked as other non-serious problems which makes early diagnosis sometimes difficult. However, catching oral cancer early is key to a successful and life-saving treatment. It’s always better to be safe and see your dentist in Belle Fourche if you notice any of the following potential signs of oral cancer:
- A mouth sore that doesn’t go away
- A lump or thickening in the cheek area
- Difficulty swallowing
- Changes in voice
- Persistent bad breath
Avoid These Risk Factors
There are many known risk factors that increase the chance of oral cancer. Some we can control, others we cannot. For example, genetics, being over age 55, and being male are all uncontrollable things that may put someone at increased risk for oral cancer. However, the following lifestyle choices, also known to raise the risk, can be avoided:
- Using Smokeless Tobacco
- Drinking Alcohol
- Poor Oral Hygiene
How to Protect Yourself
Avoiding the lifestyle risk factors listed above is a great step to help prevent the development of oral cancer. But there are other steps you can take to minimize your risk. One of the best ways is maintaining bi-annual visits with your dentist in Belle Fourche. At these visits, your dental team is looking for any areas that may present signs of oral cancer so the disease can be caught and treated early. Again, early diagnosis greatly increases the chance of survival. Getting a dental checkup every six months may just save your life.
If you’re in need of dentist, we welcome you to contact our Belle Fourche dental office to schedule an appointment today. We’re always happy to help our neighbors get a healthy smile that also can get them a healthy body.