April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

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Almost 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or throat cancer this year. The five year survival rate of those diagnosed is only slightly more than 64 percent. When cancer is detected and treated early, treatment-related health problems are reduced.

As the Nation prepares to observe the 14th Annual Oral Cancer Awareness Month this April, the American Academy of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology, American Academy of Periodontology, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and the American Dental Association have joined the Oral Cancer Foundation in its campaign to remind everyone that regular oral cancer examinations from your dental professional are the best methods to detect oral cancer in its early stages. Regular dental visits can improve the chances that any suspicious changes in your oral health will be caught early, at a time when cancer can be treated more easily.

In between dental visits, it is important for patients to be aware of the following signs and symptoms, and to see their dentist if they do not disappear after two weeks.

>>a sore or irritation that doesn't go away

>>red or white patches

>>pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips

>>a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area

>>difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue

>>a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth

Factors That May Cause Cancer

Research has identified a number of factors that may contribute to the development of oral cancer. Those at an especially high risk of developing oral cancer are heavy drinkers and smokers older than 50.The human papilloma virus version 16, which is sexually transmitted, is related to the increasing incidence of mouth cancer in non-smoking patients. It is likely that there is a complex interaction of many external and internal factors that play a role in the development of oral cancer. 

Your mouth is one of your body's most important early warning systems. Don't ignore any suspicious lumps or sores that last more than two weeks. Should you discover something suspicious, make an appointment for a prompt examination. Early treatment may well be the key to complete recovery.

For more information about oral cancer, its diagnosis and treatment, visit the Oral Cancer Foundation's Website.