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Is An Oral Cancer Test Really Necessary?

Oral cancer has long since been linked to tobacco use and heavy consumption of alcohol, until recently. In the last few years, reports have linked Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease, to the development of oral cancer.

Although a sexually transmitted disease may not be on the list of topics to discuss with your dentist, oral cancer screenings should be a priority.

The Oral Cancer Foundation defines oral cancer as cancers of the head, neck, mouth, tongue, and throat. Oropharyngeal cancer is a subset of oral cancers that specifically affects the mouth and throat and directly relates to patients who also have HPV. Research from Johns Hopkins Medicine indicates that nearly 20 million Americans are infected with some form of HPV. With these staggering numbers, an oral cancer screening could save your life.

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, every day nearly 115 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. If caught early, oral cancer has nearly an 80-90% survival rate. The downside is that the early stages of oral cancer do not typically present any symptoms. Not until the later stages of oral cancer, do patients realize something is not right and undergo an oral cancer screening. Unfortunately, in the late-stage of oral cancer there is only a five-year, 43% survival rate among patients that are diagnosed with oral cancer.

Although statistically, oral cancer was more prevalent among men over the age of 50 who also used tobacco or drank alcohol a lot. Today, doctor’s are diagnosing oral cancer in women that are in their 40’s. Still, men are six times more likely than women to develop HPV-related oral cancer.

The dentist has more to do than you would think with the diagnosis of oral cancer. During your routine dental cleaning and checkups, the dentist can conduct an oral cancer screening. If your current dentist does not conduct oral cancer screenings, you should ask. It could be the one conversation that saves your life. Oral cancer screenings are simple and involve an exam of your mouth’s soft tissue as well as your throat, neck, and under your jaw. There are even things you can do at home to keep an eye out for signs of oral cancer before it is too late. Check for any abnormalities, asymmetrical markings, or lumps in your face, mouth, and neck. If you notice any sores or cuts that do not seem to be healing on their own, mention these to the dentist. Also, if you notice any abnormal hoarseness to your voice that does not improve, contact your dentist for an oral cancer screening.

To set up an oral cancer screening, call Smiles by Songstad. Our comprehensive and thorough exam includes an oral cancer screening that is simple, quick, and painless. We recommend routine dental cleanings and exams as part of your oral hygiene regimen and as a way to maintain good health overall. Call us today for your next appointment. We welcome patients of the Green Hills and Belle Meade, TN areas.