Did you know that three Canadians die every day from oral cancer? In fact, more people die from oral cancers than either cervical or skin cancer. And because two-thirds of oral cancers are discovered in the late stages of the disease, the prognosis is often poor. When discovered late, the 5-year survival rate is a frightening 55% – yet when discovered early, this rate increases to as high as 90%. It is imperative, therefore, that oral cancer is detected early, before the disease advances. As an Oakville dentist I keep a keen eye for telltale signs like lumps and discoloration and conduct oral cancer screenings when you visit.
The first step in prevention is awareness. And that’s what Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April is all about.
Did you know…?
- The disease is affecting more people than ever before. (In 2017, 4,700 Canadians were diagnosed with oral cancer – nearly twice the number who were diagnosed a decade earlier in 2007.)
- In its earliest most treatable stages, oral cancer usually causes no pain or discomfort.
- If left undiagnosed, oral cancers can progress to more advanced stages.
- If diagnosed soon enough there is an 80-90% survival rate.
- We encourage everyone age 18 and older to receive an annual oral cancer screening during their regular hygiene checkup.
- Oral cancer screening is performed on all adult patients at Bhandari Dental at each recall visit.
What can you do between visits?
- Reduce your lifestyle-related risk factors. These include smoking, drinking alcohol, sun exposure, a diet low in vegetables and fruit, and poor oral health.
- Be aware of other risk factors including a history of other cancers, past HPV infection, a weakened immune system, and Oral Lichen Planus.
- Look for these telltale signs or oral health issues: mouth sores that don’t clear up within 14 days, mouth pain, thickening of the cheek lining, loose teeth, ill-fitting dentures, loss of sensation in the lips or cheeks, voice changes, bleeding in the mouth.
And call us right away for an exam if any of these persist.
If it’s been a while since your last dental appointment, please give us a call. In addition to helping you ensure that you are free from tooth decay and gum disease, we will give you an oral cancer screening so you can feel secure in your oral – and overall – health.
Yours in excellent dental health,
Dr. Vineet Bhandari, Oakville General Family Dentist
* Source: Canadian Dental Association