Half of the nearly 50, 000 Americans diagnosed with oral cancer this year will die of the disease within 5 years. The Oral Cancer Foundation says those statistics can improve dramatically with early detection of malignant lesions in the back of the throat, or on one's lips, tongue, cheeks, gums. Regular screening and education with your Columbia, SC, dentist, Dr. Joel Johnson, could save your life or the life of a loved one.
Do you know the symptoms of oral cancer?
There are many symptoms of oral cancer. They include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarseness of voice
- Sore throat
- Red or white patches or plaques that do not heal
- Ear or facial pain
- Mobile teeth
- Puffy lymph nodes
Unfortunately, oral cancer is sometimes very discreet, exhibiting no signs or symptoms whatsoever to the person who has it. That's why oral cancer screening at your six-month check-up with Dr. Johnson is so important.
Do you know your risk factors?
Frankly, anyone can get oral cancer, but adults are definitely more prone. So Dr. Johnson screens everyone age 18 and older. People in the 40 to 60 age group are the most frequently diagnosed, and while men used to outnumber women by a wide margin, that margin has begun narrowing.
Besides age and gender, other risk factors include:
- Smoking and chewing tobacco
- Excessive alcohol use
- Excessive sun exposure
- A diet low in vegetables and fruits
- Exposure to the Human Papillomavirus, or HPV 16
Getting screened for oral cancer is much easier than you may realize. When you see your Columbia, SC, dentist for your semi-annual dental exam and hygienic cleaning, he will inspect your mouth, lips and the back of your throat for any lesions, changes in color, swellings, and lumps. He'll also feel the lymph nodes on the sides of your neck and under your jaw, looking for hardness or puffy areas. Physicians and dentists call this kind of screening visual and tactile, and patients call it quick, painless and reassuring.
Is it time for your screening?
Don't be alarmed. Oral cancer is highly curable when your dentist sees it early on in its development. It's what you don't know about that can harm you.
Please contact Dr. Joel Johnson today to arrange your routine check-up and cleaning. He'll be happy to explain the particulars of how he assesses his patients for oral cancer. Call (803) 788-2555.