Importance of Early Detection of Oral Cancer

  • Jun 25 2020

Is it true that oral cancer is often detected during dental exams?

Cancer. There are a few things that we are more afraid of than having a healthcare professional walk in the room and give us that dreaded diagnosis. As true as that may be, there is actually something to fear far more than cancer being discovered at work in our cells and that is that it is there but is not found early enough for successful treatment. 

One of the difficulties with catching cancer early is that it can often be mistaken for something else. Oral cancer is no exception to this. Cancer that affects the mouth and back area of the throat is classified as oral cancer. It is also known as mouth cancer, throat cancer, tonsil or tongue cancer. Early symptoms are all too often discounted as simply a toothache, a cold, sore throat or even an earache. 

While oral cancer may not be one that we hear about as often as lung cancer or breast cancer, every hour, an average of close to 150 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed here in the U.S. What may be even more concerning to learn is that someone in the U.S. dies every hour due to oral cancer and that the rate of occurrence of this disease has been increasing for more than a decade.   

The good news is that oral cancer is very treatable. When diagnosed in the earliest stages, the survival rate is between 80 and 90 percent. With many types of cancer, early detection translates to far more favorable outcomes, which is why screening is so widely advocated. When it comes to oral cancer, however, there is not a national focus on developing and promoting screening policies and protocols. This results in later detection of oral cancer and the grim prognosis of around a 43 percent death rate at five years. 

Early Detection of Oral Cancer

The responsibility for our own health is ultimately up to us, as individuals. It is important that we are aware of the symptoms of oral cancer and seek out professional help as soon as possible. According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, “After an informed public that is knowledgeable about the risk factors for oral cancer, the dental community is the first line of defense in early detection of the disease.”

Not only is your dentist someone you can reach out to with symptoms you feel may be related to oral cancer, but it is during those routine dental exams that your dentist can look for any indications that might mean there is the possibility of oral cancer. Be sure and discuss this during your next appointment. 

Possible Indicators of Oral Cancer

Although the usual signs or symptoms of oral cancer can easily be overlooked as meaning something else, the following are actually common signs that this disease may be present:

  • Red or white patch or patches in the inside of the mouth
  • Sores in the mouth or on the lip that don’t heal
  • Pain in the mouth not attributable to something in particular
  • Tooth or teeth that feel loose
  • A growth on the inside of the mouth, might feel like a lump
  • Difficulty with swallowing, may include pain
  • Ear pain

Regular dental exams have always been important, but if you become aware of any of these symptoms or something else that just doesn’t feel “right”, it would be wise to make an appointment with your dentist as early as possible. 

If you have questions about any of the above symptoms or any of our services, whether dentistry or aesthetics, Forest Hills Dentistry is dedicated to delivering the highest quality services possible. We offer the latest and most current information and services to our patients with a new state-of-the-art facility in Forest Hills, Queens. Patient comfort, individualized care and complete satisfaction are our priority. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to use our online form by clicking here

Categories: Oral Cancer