NORTHAMPTON, EAST LONGMEADOW AND SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS —
With Oral Cancer Awareness Month right around the corner, it is important to remember that cavities and gum disease are not the only oral health problems you should be concerned with preventing and monitoring.
There are two types of oral cancer: oral cavity cancer and oropharyngeal cancer. Oral cancer can affect any part of the oral cavity, including the throat, lips, mouth and tongue.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2013, approximately 36,000 people in the United States will get oral cancer. Of those 36,000 people, the ACS estimates that 6,850 of them will die from oral cancer. (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/oralcavityandoropharyngealcancer/detailedguide/oral-cavity-and-oropharyngeal-cancer-key-statistics)
“Fortunately, there are several ways that you can try to prevent oral cancer from developing,” said Dr. Vincent Mariano, a Springfield, MA dentist who specializes in dental implants and other Prosthodontic services. “Practices include abstaining from alcohol and tobacco use, avoiding prolonged UV light exposure, and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.”
There are several signs of oral cancer that you should look for, especially if it runs in your family, including:
- Ear pain
- Unexplained mouth bleeding
- Soreness in the back of your throat
- Lumps, swellings or rough spots anywhere in your mouth
- Unexplained numbness
- White, red or speckled patches in your mouth
While some early cases of oral cancer may cause you to experience symptoms and seek medical attention, other cancers may not produce symptoms until they are in an advanced stage. This is where oral cancer screenings come into play. Other reasons why regular screenings are important include:
• You may not always be able to detect abnormal areas by looking at your mouth in the mirror. Your dentist and hygienist are trained to identify areas of concern and have advanced testing techniques available if needed.
• Your treatment options are based on the stage of the oral cancer, so the sooner the cancer is detected, the better the chance you will not need as extensive of a treatment.
• More than 25 percent of oral cancer patients do not use tobacco products or drink alcohol, so there is a chance that you will develop oral cancer even if those products are not a part of your lifestyle.
• Depending on your symptoms, your dentist may need to perform a head and neck examination because oral cancer can easily spread to your lymph nodes due to their proximity to your mouth and oropharynx.
Once your Northampton MA family dentistry practitioner identifies the stage of your oral cancer, he/she can determine what treatment method will be the most effective. Treatment options include surgery, palliative treatment, radiation therapy and targeted therapy.
Dentists in Northampton, MA, like Dr. Mariano and Dr. Lisa Emirzian, care about your well-being. They are dedicated to the betterment and maintenance of your oral health. They will be happy to perform an oral cancer screening at your next checkup. Call today to set up an appointment and learn more about oral cancer.
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