At the beginning of this year, it was estimated that 53,000 people would get oral cancer and over 10,000 people would die from oral cancer in 2019. While this disease is neither the most common nor the most talked-about cancer, it still deserves our attention. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, making it the perfect time for you to visit your dentist for an oral cancer screening in Creve Coeur. A simple examination could save your life!
Who Should Get Screened?
Don’t trick yourself into believing that you will never develop oral cancer disease if you don’t smoke or chew tobacco. Although tobacco use is a major risk factor for oral cancer, it isn’t the only thing that can cause this disease to develop. In addition to tobacco usage, risk factors for oral cancer include: a poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption, and prolonged sun exposure.
Keep in mind as well that even though most cases of oral cancer occur in older individuals, younger people are also at risk. One of the reasons for this is the human papilloma virus, which is the most common sexually transmitted disease. It is a significant risk factor for oral cancer, and most people do not know they have it because it doesn’t always present obvious symptoms.
The bottom line is that all adults should get screened for oral cancer at least once a year, regardless of their lifestyle or daily habits.
The Screening Process
The oral cancer screening process is simple, fast, and painless. Most dentists just perform a visual and tactile examination, wherein they look for signs of the disease. For example, they’ll be alert for lumps, swelling, and patches of discoloration in or around your oral cavity.
Other dentists, including your dentist in Creve Coeur at Feigenbaum Dental, have invested in advanced technology that helps them detect even the slightest indications of oral cancer. The VELscope machine uses a special type of light to detect any suspicious cells. It can highlight possible oral cancer much earlier than a basic tactile and visual examination.
If your screening reveals any areas of concern, your dentist will urge you to seek further testing from a cancer specialist or your primary care physician.
Screenings Save Lives!
The overall 5-year survival rate in cases where oral cancer is detected early is 84 percent. The overall survival rate drops to 65 percent in cases where the cancer reaches the surrounding tissues and lymph nodes. When the cancer affects distant parts of the body, the overall survival rate is only 39 percent. Clearly, early detection is often a key to survival, and regular screenings are a key to early detection.
You have nothing to lose and possibly everything to gain by visiting your dentist for an oral cancer screening!
About Our Practice
Drs. James and Jenna Feigenbaum are your oral health experts at Feigenbaum Dental. They encourage patients to undergo oral cancer screening as part of their routine dental examinations. If it is time for your next screening, or you have other concerns about your oral health, contact our team today at 314-567-1777.