When it comes to oral cancer mortality rates, the statistics are sobering. Early diagnosis is essential, which is why The Lewisville Dentist in Lewisville TX provides oral cancer screenings.
Two numbers are key: 40% and 90%. 40% of those who receive a late-stage diagnosis die within five years. However, the survival rate for early stage diagnosis is 90%.
Oral Cavity and Oropharynx—Mouth and Throat
Cancers that start in the oral cavity (the mouth) are called oral cancers. The oral cavity consists of the inside tissue of the mouth and cheeks, the lips, the tissue underneath the tongue, the roof of the mouth, and the front two-thirds of the tongue.
“Why only two-thirds of the tongue?” you might ask. Good question. The reason is that the back third of the tongue is considered part of the throat.
Throat cancers, or oropharyngeal cancers, start in the oropharynx, the part of the mouth behind the parts considered the oral cavity. The oropharynx is composed of the soft palate, the tonsils, and the throat.
How Are Oral Cancers Diagnosed?
Some oral cancers produce symptoms which prompt the patient to see a doctor. Others are discovered by dentists during screenings. Thousands of lives could be saved every year if more people received regular screenings.
A visual oral cancer exam is relatively quick and convenient, especially compared to other cancer tests such as colonoscopies and mammograms. If an abnormality is discovered during an exam, the patient is referred to an appropriate specialist for further testing and diagnosis.
Be proactive. Ask us to perform an oral cancer screening during each examination or physical. If you have one or more risk factors, it’s essential to let us know.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
- Tobacco use (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or snuff)
- Heavy drinking
- Unhealthy diet
- HPV infection
- Weak immune system
- Frequent exposure to UV light (a risk factor for cancers of the lips)
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