Dentists Play Key Role in Detecting Oral
SATURDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Not only do regular dental
exams help keep your teeth and gums healthy, they can help detect
oral cancer, the Academy of General Dentistry says.
As part of Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April, the group
recommends that people get a dental exam from a general dentist
every six months.
"The next time you visit your dentist, ask about an oral cancer screening," academy spokesperson Dr. Seung-Hee Rhee advised in an academy news release.
"Your dentist will feel for lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, cheeks, and oral cavity and thoroughly examine the soft tissues in your mouth, specifically looking for any sores or discolored tissues. Although you may have already been receiving this screening from your dentist, it's a good idea to confirm that this screening is a part, and will remain a part, of your regular exam," Rhee said.
Each year in the United States, more than 30,000 new cases of
oral cancer are diagnosed, and more than 8,000 people die of the
disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
The five-year survival rate for oral cancer is about 50
"If it is not diagnosed and treated in its early stages, oral cancer can be deadly," Rhee said. "Treatment for advanced stage oral cancer may lead to chronic pain, loss of function, permanent facial and oral disfigurement following surgery. The earlier the cancer is detected and treated, the better the outcome."
Possible warning signs of oral cancer may include: bleeding
sores; sores that do not heal; lumps or thick, hard spots; soreness
or feeling that something is caught in the throat; difficulty
chewing or swallowing; ear pain; difficulty moving the jaw or
tongue; hoarseness; numbness of the tongue, and changes in the way
teeth fit together.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
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