April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Dr. Shah and Dr. O’Riordan here at The Pediatric Dental Center would like you to be aware of oral cancer.  Visit your dentist twice a year for oral cancer screenings!!!!

While some think mouth cancer is a rare cancer, 100 new people in the US EVERY DAY will be newly diagnosed with an oral cancer, and that one person EVERY HOUR OF THE DAY, 24/7/365 will die from it.  There are two distinct pathways by which most people come to oral cancer. One is through the use of tobacco and alcohol, a long term historic problem and cause, and the other is through exposure to the HPV-16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16), a newly identified cause.  A small percentage of people (under 7 %) do get oral cancers from no currently identified cause.  It is currently believed that these are likely related to some genetic predisposition.  Historically the death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high, not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development.

You are the most important factor in an early diagnosis. You should always contact your doctor or dentist immediately if you notice the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one:

  • A sore or lesion in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks.
  • A lump or thickening in the cheek.
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth.
  • A sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat.
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue.
  • Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth.
  • Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable.
  • Chronic hoarseness.

Click here for more information from The Oral Cancer Foundation.