With any form of cancer, early detection is a major factor in the chances of successful recovery. Oral cancer is no exception. The earlier this type of cancer is found, the more likely you are to have a positive outcome from subsequent treatment.
Causes of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is most often found in individuals who smoke or who use smokeless tobacco such as chewing tobacco. Excessive use of alcohol has also been linked to oral cancer. In addition, some oral cancers can be caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), the same virus that has been linked to cervical cancer in women.
The best way to prevent oral cancer is to avoid smoking or use of tobacco. Using both tobacco and alcohol can significantly increase your risk of oral cancer, so avoiding alcohol, especially if you smoke, is another preventive measure. Avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun and using lip balm with a sun-blocking ingredient can help prevent cancers from developing on the lips.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Oral cancer has historically been one of the more dangerous types of cancer, requiring extensive treatment, including surgery, and with a lower survival rate. The main reason for this is that it is often not detected until it has spread from its original location or metastasized to another area of the body. This makes the cancer much more difficult to treat. Unfortunately, oral cancers often do not cause noticeable symptoms in their early stages.
Your dentist can help increase the probability of successful treatment and recovery by detecting oral cancer much earlier in its development. During routine dental exams, dentists perform oral cancer screenings to see if there are any unusual symptoms or growths in the mouth. Dentists are trained to detect changes in the oral tissues that could indicate the presence of cancer, and so are more likely to spot symptoms of oral cancers before the cancer has spread.
If you are overdue for a regular exam, please contact our Irving dental office for an appointment. We will provide thorough preventive dental care, as well as oral cancer screenings to help you stay healthy for many years to come.