Every April, the dental community recognizes Oral Cancer Awareness Month to educate our patients and neighbors on this scary, and sometimes deadly, disease. In fact, oral cancer kills one person every hour, every day. More than 50,000 people are diagnosed every year. At our dental office in Madison, we want to do our part and help our community recognize the risks and signs of early cancer.
Who is at Risk of Getting Oral Cancer?
Anyone can get oral cancer. But there are several things that can put someone at greater risk. While we can’t change some of these risk factors, there are definitely some we can control. Some factors that increase the risk of oral cancer include:
Tobacco Use: 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users including those who smoke cigarettes, cigars, or use smokeless tobacco.
Drinking Alcohol: Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
Age: Those over the age of 50 are at increased risk of oral cancer.
The Sun: Unprotected sun exposure tends to put people at greater risk of oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Even though oral cancer can be treated successfully, treatment and survival increase greatly when oral cancer is caught early. This is why it’s incredibly important to know the signs of oral cancer. Some common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- A sore that doesn’t go away
- Irregular areas such as lumps, rough spots, or erosion
- Red or white patches
- Pain or numbness
- Difficulty speaking, chewing, or swallowing
If you notice any of these symptoms, call your dentist in Madison and schedule a checkup.
Regular dental appointments don’t just help protect your teeth from cavities. They’re also crucial to monitor your overall oral health. During your dental cleanings and exams, your dental team will be on the lookout for any concerning areas or warning signs that there may be a problem so that treatment can begin sooner rather than later. Early diagnosis of oral cancer may save your life.
Don’t put off your dental appointments. Call our Madison dental office to schedule an appointment today.