Amazingly, oral cancer kills more people each year than some of the more widely known forms of cancer like skin cancer, lymphatic cancer and cervical cancer. This little known fact highlights the need for greater awareness and education about oral cancer which can impact the dental and general health of everyone.
A quick review of the statistics show:
Dentists and dental hygienists should be on the front line in this battle for education, awareness and detection of oral cancer. Sadly, only about 15% of dental patients receive oral cancer screenings during their dental exams. There are many tools on the market to help the dental professionals differentiate normal from abnormal tissue (such as special lights and dyes) but most of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer can be seen with the naked eye or felt with the fingers. The Oral Cancer Foundation website is a good resource to learn how to conduct an effective screening.
If suspicious lesions do not resolve within 2 weeks then they should be biopsied for histological evaluation. The message should be loud and clear; early detection and early treatment are the keys. Regular dental checks ups that incorporate an oral cancer examination coupled with an increase in public awareness of oral cancer risk factors can save lives.
I encourage you to discuss this and any other questions you have about oral cancer during your next appointment with your dentist.
About the Author
Dr. Michael Buglione is an experienced and award-winning family, cosmetic and sedation dentist based in Vestal, NY. Connect with Dr. Buglione on Google+.