Next time your doctor tests you for gum disease, be sure to ask about oral cancer screening. It’s an easy procedure covered by most insurance providers. It usually doesn’t involve any machinery or blood tests. Your dentist will feel around your mouth for signs of cancerous development, check your tongue for lumps, and assess your tonsils using a dental mirror. This quick examination may well save your life. Here’s why it’s so important.
Oral Cancer Facts
Nearly 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year. A 2016 study predicted that oral and oropharyngeal cancers would lead to 9,700 deaths—7,000 men and 2,700 women. Going without screening is a huge risk, especially for men, tobacco and alcohol users, or those who’ve suffered from previous gum disease. Each of these groups is much more likely to develop oral cancer.
Early Detection & Risk Reduction
Here’s the good news: those who detect oral and oropharyngeal cancer early have a much stronger chance of beating it. The standard five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with these cancers is 64%, but when detected early, this figure shoots up to 83%. That’s because early detection and treatment, just like with gum disease, can prevent the disease from spreading and causing irreparable damage. If left untreated, cancer spreads, and can even transform into other types of cancer. Survival rates for those with locally spreading cancer is 63%. Oral cancer that has spread to a distant region of the body, however, has a survival rate of 38%.
Only about 14% of people are diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer in its early stage. If more people worked cancer screenings into their routine gum disease exams, countless lives would be saved.
Never let oral or oropharyngeal cancer take you by surprise. Regardless of your risk factors, make sure your dentist is checking for cancers along with gum disease. Schedule an oral cancer screening with Brian Perelmuter DMD, P.C. in Naugatuck, CT today by calling (203) 729-3323 or visiting their website.