Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oral Cancer...Yikes!

This morning I attended an annual dental seminar that's offered through my employer.  Most of the topics go over my head but today there was one topic that caught my attention...Oral Cancer.  Not too much in the mouth gets me queezy but I think I have finally found my stomach threshold.  I saw oral carcinoma pictures that were disturbing and so advanced that it was hard to believe that people would have let them get so big and think that it was okay; that it was normal.

I know the majority of my readers are friends but in the off chance I can touch someone who crosses this post even by accident,  please listen to what I say as I want to share my limited dental knowledge.  Your dentist or hygienist should be doing a head and neck exam as part of an oral cancer screening every time you go in for your cleanings.  They should be checking your lips, cheeks, tongue, pharynx, and thyroid glands. 

Catching oral cancer in its earlier stages have a 80+ % survival rate.  If a sore is ignored or not caught earlier enough,  survival rates decrease severely to 30+%.  Even with surgery to remove the carcinoma, patients rarely have a 5 year survival rate!

You might be thinking...I don't smoke or chew tobacco so I don't have to worry about oral cancer.  Well, you're mistaken.  They can be caused by "chemicals, viruses, irradiation, excessive alcohol intake, hormones, diet and physical irritants" (like dentures or mouth-guards). {Nelson, L. Hhodus, DMD;; Oct '09-Vol 30, No. 8}

So I urge anyone who notices an abnormality above/below/on the side of their tongue, on your cheeks or lips, please seek attention from a dentist.  Your life depends on it.