An important part of your routine dental checkup involves inspecting more than just your teeth and gums, but also your entire oral cavity for signs of trouble. Many of the most destructive systemic illnesses can exhibit early signs in the form of lesions, ulcers, and other oral abnormalities, including oral cancer. Though not as well-known or widely-discusses as other cancers, such as those of the breast and lung, oral cancer still affects a large portion of the U.S. population, and often possesses a less-than-stellar survival rate. Your San Diego periodontist, Dr. Ann Kania, helps shed light on the dangers of oral cancer, and explains how to increase your chances of avoiding it with regular oral cancer screenings and periodic self-examinations.
What You Should Know
- Oral cancer is a general term that encompasses cancers of the mouth, tongue, tonsils, and throat, along with other oral tissues. Of all cancers in the head and neck category, oral cancer is the most prevalent.
- Every year, approximately 40,000 people in the United States are newly diagnosed with oral cancer. With a fatality rate higher than cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and skin cancer, oral cancer claims nearly 8,000 lives within the same period.
- The low survival rate of most oral cancer cases is due in large part to late detection. When caught and treated early, the survival rate jumps from around 57% to between 80-90%.
- Tobacco use is one of the most significant instigators of oral cancer. HPV infection is also a significant contributor, and rare cases can occur for no apparent reason.
What to Look For
Oral cancer screenings are a regular part of your dental checkup, but since routine dental visits are typically spaced out by about six months, Dr. Kania advises periodically performing a self-examination to determine if there’s a need for further inspection. While standing in front of a mirror, open wide and search for signs of;
- Sores or lesions in the mouth, some of which may not heal
- A lump or thickening area of the cheek
- White and/or red patches on your gums, tongue, tonsils, or the lining of your mouth
- Difficulty opening and closing your mouth
Oral Cancer Screenings & More with Your San Diego Periodontist
If you spot something suspicious, or if you’d like to attend your next oral cancer screening soon, then seek Dr. Kania’s expertise today by calling our San Diego periodontist’s office at (760) 642-0711. Located in the 92024 area, we proudly serve patients from Encinitas, San Diego, Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar, La Costa, and the neighboring communities.