April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and our dental office in Chapel Hill thought we should dedicate a blog this month to help educate our patients and community on the prevalence of oral cancer in America, what increases someone’s likelihood of developing the disease, and how to spot signs of oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Statistics
Like any other cancer, oral cancer is a complicated disease that takes the lives of many individuals. While scientists continue researching cures and treatments are always improving, the data surrounding the oral cancer epidemic is still scary.
- According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, nearly 50,000 Americans will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2017.
- Of those, only a little over half are expected to live longer than 5 years.
- This year alone, oral cancer will kill one person every hour of every day.
- Across the globe, an estimated 450,000 oral cancer diagnoses are made each year.
Oral Cancer Risks
While anyone can develop oral cancer, there are several factors that increase the likelihood of diagnosis. Of these, there are few we can control and others we can’t.
- The top risk factor is tobacco use. An estimated 80% of oral cancer patients are, or have been, tobacco users.
- As we get older, our risk of oral cancer increases. The majority of oral cancer patients are over the age of 55.
- Gender can also play a role. Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
- Drinking alcohol heavily also increases your risk.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
- Pain while swallowing, chewing, or speaking
- Changes in voice
- A sore or discoloration that doesn’t go away after two weeks
- A lump inside the mouth or neck
- Chronic bad breath
Signs of oral cancer can be similar to other non-serious oral health issues. If you notice any of the symptoms above, we strongly encourage you to call your dentist in Chapel Hill as soon as you can. Early detection of oral cancer greatly increases the chance for successful treatment. This is also one reason why you should see your dentist at least every six months.
At our Chapel Hill dental office, we care about keeping our neighbors healthy. If there are any questions we can answer, or if you’re looking for advice on oral cancer treatment, give us a call.
Welcoming new patients from Chapel Hill, Durham, Pittsboro and beyond.