As April, Oral Cancer Awareness Month, draws to a close, here are some things to you should know and keep in mind:
Why is it important to get screened?
-Approximately 45,750 people in the U.S. will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer this year. 125 new people in the US EVERY DAY will be newly diagnosed with an oral cancer, and one person EVERY HOUR OF THE DAY, 24/7/365 will die from it. Of those 45,750 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years. (Approximately 57%)
-The fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients is young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals due to the connection to the HPV virus, not just smokers and tobacco users.
-Oral cancer is particularly dangerous because in its early stages it may not be noticed by the patient, as it can frequently prosper without producing pain or symptoms they might readily recognize, and because it has a high risk of producing second, primary tumors.
Possible Signs & Symptoms
-It may appear as a white or red patch of tissue in the mouth, or a small indurated ulcer which looks like a common canker sore. Because there are so many benign tissue changes that occur normally in your mouth, and some things as simple as a bite on the inside of your cheek may mimic the look of a dangerous tissue change, it is important to have any sore or discolored area of your mouth, which does not heal within 14 days, looked at by a professional.
-Other symptoms include; a lump or mass which can be felt inside the mouth or neck, pain or difficulty in swallowing, speaking, or chewing, any wart like masses, hoarseness which lasts for a long time, or any numbness in the oral/facial region. Unilateral persistent ear ache can also be a warning sign.