Every year in the United States, more than 42,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed. Of those cases, nearly 50% will not survive beyond five years of receiving a diagnosis because the cancer wasn’t discovered until it had reached an advanced stage. Key to survival is early detection, and key to early detection is an educated, well-informed public. Mansfield, TX dentists, Dr. Blair Jones and Dr. Seth Harris, provide a helpful map of the most common types of oral cancer and discuss the role of regular dental care in detection and survival.
Common Types of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can occur anywhere in the soft tissues of the mouth and throat. The most common types of oral cancer include:
Also categorized as a type of skin cancer, cancers of the lip can, when caught in the earliest stages, have a near 100% cure rate. And, due to the high visibility of early lesions, most lip cancers are identified early on. Just over 80% of lip cancers occur on the lower lip and more men than women are affected by this type of cancer, due primarily to higher rates of prolonged sun exposure and tobacco use.
According to Cedars-Sinai, cancers of the tongue are categorized according to their placement: those that occur on the front 2/3 of the tongue (classified as oral cancer) and those occurring on base of the tongue (classified as head and neck cancer). Men have a higher risk of tongue cancer, as do smokers, people who chew tobacco, and those who frequently drink alcohol.
Also known as buccal mucosa cancer, cancers of the inner cheeks and lips are often hard to detect in the earliest stages. However, a visual examination performed by an experienced dentist or doctor can detect small lumps, white patches, or other abnormalities that could point to the presence of cancerous cells.
Throat cancers can occur anywhere at the top, mid-part, or bottom of the pharynx and in the voicebox (larynx). Some of the early symptoms of throat cancer, like hoarseness, cough, and sore throat, can be easily mistaken for the common cold, a mild flu, or even allergies. If you experience these symptoms consistently for a prolonged period, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. Men, especially those who use tobacco and drink regularly, have a nearly 90% higher risk than women of developing throat cancer.
Dental Checkups are Key to Early Detection
According to the National Cancer Institute, regular visits to your family dentist are your best options when it comes to successful early oral cancer detection. General dentists receive extensive education and hands-on training during dental school in the identification of abnormalities that could indicate cancer of the oral cavity. In fact, a visual oral cancer detection screening is a routine part of most bi-annual preventive checkups. The earlier oral cancer is detected, the better your chances of survival.
About Mansfield Dental Associates:
At Mansfield Dental Associates, Dr. Blair Jones and Dr. Seth Harris share the same vision and philosophy when it comes to patient care. We provide thorough, compassionate preventive dental services in addition to a full menu of restorative, cosmetic, and prosthetic dentistry. Contact our Mansfield, TX dentist office at 817-473-6227 to schedule your next appointment.