Oral cancer can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early: 37,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer in 2011 alone and it will cause over 8,000 deaths by the end of the year.
Here are the signs and symptoms of oral cancer:
- A lump in the throat
- Thickening or lump(s) in the lining of the mouth
- Tongue numbness
- Red or white lesions in the mouth
- Dark blue or black spots on the tongue
Follow these easy at-home self-examination tips to help yourself stay on top of your health. Give yourself a little “Ah” in front of the mirror and check out your tongue (top and bottom), your gum areas, the back of your mouth, and the inside cheek areas of your mouth. If you notice any of the above symptoms, contact your dentist immediately.
During your routine check-up make sure to demand an oral screening test so that you are not one of the 85% of the population that has not had an oral examination. There are two new breakthrough screening tests that are effectively aimed at preventing oral cancer:
- The Velscope sees early changes in cells in the mouth where they become dysplastic or unhealthy. The Velscope’s blue spectrum light causes the soft tissues of the mouth to naturally fluoresce, looking like a green-apple color. If there is an abnormality, the oral health professional will see the green color turn black.
- If abnormal tissue appears, there is a second screening test, the Oral CDX brush. This test is like a pap smear for your mouth. The Oral CDX brush can save lives in much the same way as the pap smear has increased the survival rates for cervical cancer; since routine use, cervical cancer has gone from the second to eleventh leading cause of death.
Call your dentist today to schedule your next routine examination and remember that this routine checkup could save your life!