April Brings Oral Cancer Into Focus

The word “cancer” is one of the scariest nouns in the English language, and one of the most dreadful diagnoses to give or receive. The month of April has been dedicated as Oral Cancer Awareness Month to help patients and doctors alike learn more about oral cancer, to identify it, and to face this seemingly monumental disease head on.

Oral cancer, which can impact the gums, tongue, cheeks, lips, and roof of the mouth, will be diagnosed in over 48,000 American lives this year alone. An average of one person will lose their life to this disease every hour of every day. The five-year survival rate for those who have been diagnosed is only about 65%. If oral cancer is caught early enough, it can be treated efficiently, and the impact of associated health issues can be greatly reduced as well.

That is why dentists like Dr. Ian Pasch of New York City’s own Herald Square Dental make sure to check all patients for the signs of oral cancer at every visit. Dr. Pasch, a dental professional of close to 35 years, and his team use the latest techniques and technologies, such as Velscope, to identify oral cancer signs and symptoms. Using this this technology allows the doctor to detect abnormal or dysplastic cells before they become apparent to the naked eye and before they have an opportunity to turn into cancer. Some of the other, more visible signs and symptoms of oral cancer that are looked for include:

-Red or white patches in the oral cavity

-Sores that don’t go away

-Pain, numbness or tenderness in the lips or mouth

-Difficulty speaking, swallowing, chewing, or moving your tongue

-Lumps, rough spots, thickened or eroded areas of tissue

The Herald Square team knows it is essential to discuss not only these signs and symptoms, but also some of the associated oral cancer behaviors, with patients every time they are in the office—not just in April.

Patients who are chronic smokers or drinkers, especially at an older age, are much more likely to develop oral or throat cancer than non-smokers or non-drinkers. Recently, more connections have been drawn between oral cancer and the sexually transmitted infection HPV, which is said to impact about 75% of the population. Not all forms of HPV cause or can cause oral cancer, but certain strains may be a cause, making it worthwhile to check for HPV and discuss it with your doctor.

A thorough conversation and education about oral cancer is one of the most efficient ways to impact a patient’s life outside of your office walls. It is recommended you talk to your patients about oral cancer and screen them for the signs and symptoms at every visit. If you are not sure how to start the conversation, or would like to review more resources and materials about Oral Cancer Awareness Month, visit the Oral Cancer Foundation’s website by Clicking Here.

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