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It’s April finally, and along with spring we are now officially in the midst of Oral Cancer Awareness month. This means a lot to us, because oral cancer claims the lives of people every hour of every day. We want to help reduce those rates, as the cancer is treatable when discovered early. Unfortunately, the death rates have traditionally been high because most oral cancer is typically discovered in the later stages when treatment is not effective. So we are here to help change that, by creating more awareness around the subject.

In the early stages of the disease, you might not know you have the cancer because of the lack of pain or symptoms. In the past age was a risk factor, occurring mostly in people over forty. This has changed though with HPV (human papillomavirus) as a new causation of the disease. However, our dental office can often see and feel the tissue changes in the early stages while it is still small.

Other symptoms that you might also notice are: a white or red patch in the mouth, or a small ulcer that looks like a common canker sore. Any sore like this in the mouth which does not heal within two weeks should be checked. If you can feel a lump in the inside of your mouth or neck, or if you have pain when you swallow, speak or chew, or hoarseness that doesn’t go away, please come in for screening. Another symptom may be numbness in the face or mouth area, and even a persistent ear ache on one side that doesn’t get better.

Historically, it was people who smoked tobacco and drank alcohol heavily that were most at-risk. But today, HPV accounts for a high rate of oral cancer. Unfortunately, the survivability rate among those who are diagnosed is still low, with only a little above 50% living past five years. We hope to improve that number by providing oral cancer screenings to catch the disease as early as possible when treatment is most viable.

So if you have any concerns, or to schedule a visit with Dr. Manveen Atwal, we invite you to call our Northwest Family Dental team in Gainesville, Florida at 352-231-8451 today!