April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. If you have not been seen recently by our team at Piney Creek Family Dentistry, now is the time to have your oral cancer screening. Regular dental visits can be your first line of defense against this deadly disease. We provide oral cancer screenings at all preventative visits to help identify if any abnormalities exist at an early stage, and give tips on preventing this disease. 

Oral Cancer Rates in America

Nearly 40,000 people in the US will be diagnosed with a form of oral cancer this year, and more than 8,000 will die from this disease. Most people diagnosed will not live more than 5 years past the time they are diagnosed. The high death rate with this form of cancer is due to the diagnosis not being made until the disease is more advanced and has traveled to other areas of the body, most frequently the lymph nodes of the neck. 

What causes oral cancer?

While there isn't a way to predict who will be diagnosed with oral cancer, there are some potential risk factors you should know about. Some of these can be avoided or minimized with understanding their long term affect on a persons health. 

  • Age (most patients diagnosed with oral cancer are over the age of 40 years)
  • Tobacco use, either from cigarettes or smokeless tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol consumption (especially in conjunction with alcohol use)
  • Persistent viral infections, such as HPV16
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables

Oral Cancer Treatments:

Once a diagnosis of oral cancer has been made, it is a team of professionals that treat a patient. This team may include surgeons, oncologists, dentists, nutritionists, rehabilitation and restorative specialists. Our team will decide the best treatment approach based on the risk factors and how far the cancer has progressed. Some of the most common treatment approaches include chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. 

Finding out a person has oral cancer can be devastating news. If you have any concerns or might be at risk, talk to our office about frequent screenings or other ways to reduce your risk. 

~Piney Creek Family Dentistry Team.