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, 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. That’s why we 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 of people 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 Gordon Street Dental at each checkup visit.
What can you do between visits?
- Reduce your lifestyle-related risk factors. These include smoking, drinking alcohol, unprotected 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, prior HPV infection, a weakened immune system, or a history of 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 symptoms persist for more than two weeks.
The second step is early detection. We now have new wellness exam technology that dramatically improves our ability to screen for oral abnormalities that could lead to cancer. Because early detection is essential to increase chances for successful treatment, we always check your whole mouth (tongue, lips, cheek lining, and gums). We have acquired VELscope®, a painless, non-invasive screening tool that helps us to see what we can't see with the unaided eye during your routine oral cancer checkup.
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. Mark Lansdell, your Guelph dentist