How a Dental Checkup Can Save Your Life

oral cancer awareness

Oral cancer diagnosis is on the rise with an estimated 51,540 new cases expected in 2018. At our dental office in Madison, we understand how serious this life threatening disease is. In fact, the American Cancer Society projects that over 10,000 people in the United States will die from it this year. However, while oral cancer can lead to death, the five-year survival rate is 65%. Part of what contributes to this relatively high chance of survival is due to early diagnosis. During this Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we’d like to help raise awareness by sharing the importance of regular dental checkups that just might save your life.

Early Diagnosis Means Higher Chance of Survival

Oral cancer can be treated successfully. But the chance of survival greatly increases if the disease is caught in the early stages before the cancer has a chance to spread. According to the American Cancer Society, survival rates for different types of oral cancer vary depending on how much time its had to progress. They classify these progressions into three stages including:

  • Local – Meaning the cancer has only affect the area which it started.
  • Regional – This term is used for cancer that has spread to other tissues close by the original infection site.
  • Distant – Cancer classified as distant has spread even farther to more areas of the body.

Some of the most common areas affected by oral cancer, along with their various five-year survival rates based on the stages listed above can be found in the table below, courtesy of the American Cancer Society…

Lip Tongue Floor of the Mouth
Local 93% 78% 75%
Regional 48% 63% 38%
Distant 52% 36% 20%

How To Catch Oral Cancer Early

The most effective way to diagnose oral cancer early when treatment is more successful is by recognizing the signs. Some of the most common signs of oral cancer include:

  • A sore in the mouth that doesn’t go away and bleeds easily
  • A chronic white or red area
  • Difficulty swallowing, chewing, or moving the tongue
  • A lump on the cheek, tongue, or throat
  • Coughing up blood

Additionally, seeing your dentist in Madison at least every six months can proactively monitor your overall oral health, including screening for oral cancer. Your dental team is trained to look for any areas that may be concerning. Regular dental checkups can help catch oral cancer early so that you can get treatment as soon as possible in order to increase your chances of beating it.

If you notice any potential problem areas or it’s just been awhile since you’ve been to the dentist, we’re always welcoming new patients and encourage you to call our Madison dental office to schedule an appointment. We’re dedicated to protecting your smile and your overall health.