This year, over 53,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer. Tragically, of these numbers, nearly one-fifth of them will perish. Every single hour, another person loses their fight with oral cancer. The prognosis for oral cancer is greatly improved if caught early, but unfortunately, it often remains undetected for a long time.
Oral cancer is often hard to detect on your own, which truly emphasizes the importance of routine dental checkups with an oral cancer screening. While everyone needs regular screenings for oral cancer, some demographics are more vulnerable to developing it. That is why we here at Manhattan Maxillofacial Surgery Group strongly stress that all of our patients stay on top of their oral health to prevent complications that could arise from oral cancer.
What You Need to Know About Oral Pathology
Because there are many structures in your mouth that can conceal the symptoms of oral cancer, getting checked for it frequently could quite literally save your life. Your oral mucosa (the skin inside your mouth) should be smooth and pink, and any deviations of that could be a clue that something is amiss in your mouth. Signs of oral cancer include white patches in your mouth (also known as leukoplakia), red ulcers or lesions in the mouth (called erythroplasia), thickening or masses that form in the mouth or throat, difficulty swallowing or eating, and ongoing hoarseness or sore throat.
Oral cancer screenings can give you the early detection that can make the difference between survival and succumb to oral cancer. Historically, it was believed that oral cancer was a disease that exclusively attacked smokers and those who use tobacco products, men, and those over the age of forty.
We now know that there is a rapidly growing group of people who are contracting oral cancer, and they do not fit the stereotype of the typical cancer patient. Instead, they are under the age of forty, do not use tobacco products or drink alcohol, and are in otherwise good health. The cause of this new group of oral cancer patients is caused by the human papillomavirus, which some 79 million Americans have. This means that nobody is truly immune to oral cancer.
We Will Also Help if Anything Looks Awry in Your Results
If we find something suspicious during your oral cancer screening, we want you to remain calm. Just because we are concerned does not automatically mean that you have oral cancer. We will start by taking a sample of the suspicious area and send it to our lab for a biopsy. This will help us determine if the cells are cancerous. If it does turn out that you have oral cancer, we can discuss your options with you to find the best course of treatment for you. Please know that we may need to address any underlying health issues before we can begin treatment, however. Treatment for oral cancer may include surgery to remove the suspicious mass or area, radiation treatment, or chemotherapy.
Do not let fear of a cancer diagnosis prevent you from getting the potentially life-saving screening and treatment for it. To learn more about oral pathology and how we here at Manhattan Maxillofacial Surgery Group diagnose and treat it, please give us a call today at (212) 287-2483!