Seattle Dentist: Looking at Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer in the US: Statistics and More

In 2014, there were an estimated 346,902 people living with oral cavity and pharynx cancer in the United States. While that’s some years back the data always lags reality by about four years. The important thing about cancer data is that it’s not a single year number, but trend lines in the data. The increasing trend in oral and oropharyngeal cancers remain unchanged for most of our lifetimes.

There will be an estimated 49,670 new cases of this cancer in 2017 with a recent rise in cases of oropharyngeal cancer linked to infection with human papilloma virus (HPV) in white men and women. The average age of most people diagnosed with these cancers is 62, but they can occur in young people. About 9,700 estimated deaths will occur in 2017. The death rate, however, has been decreasing over the last 30 years.

Oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers occur most often on the tongue, tonsils, oropharynx, gums, floor of the mouth, and other parts of the mouth – the lips, and the minor salivary glands in the roof of the mouth. With newly diagnosed patients for oral cancer, some will have another cancer in a nearby area such as the larynx, the esophagus, or the lung.

Cured patients can develop another cancer later in the lung, mouth, throat, or other nearby areas. For this reason, people with oral and oropharyngeal cancer will need to have follow-up exams for the rest of their lives. They also need to avoid using tobacco and alcohol, which increase the risk for these second cancers.

You can take steps to prevent or catch oral cancer early by regular dental visits. Your dentist will check for a red or white patch, a sore that bleeds easily or does not heal, a thick or hard spot or a lump, a roughened or crusted area. There may be numbness, pain, and changes in bite, chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw. The dentist will not be able to diagnose cancer during an examination for only through a biopsy can this be done. However, your dentist can identify suspicious-looking areas or growths that may need further evaluation.

Regular Dental Visits can Catch Oral Cancer Early

Smile Art in Seattle is concern not just with your teeth and gums but the health of all your oral tissues are examined each time, looking for signs and changes that may matter to your dental and overall health.

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