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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know?

  • The fatality rate for Oral and pharyngeal cancer (cancer of the mouth and upper throat) together, averages one person every hour of every day.

  • Almost 50,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in the US each year.

  • Oral cancer affects 50% more men than women.

Of the people newly diagnosed with these cancers, only about 60% will live longer than 5 years. Many who do survive suffer long-term problems such as severe facial disfigurement or difficulties eating and speaking. The death rate associated with oral and pharyngeal cancers remains particularly high due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development and due to it spreading quickly in the soft oral tissues.

The major risk factors of these cancers are smoking, alcohol and HPV exposure. However, 25% of the cases diagnosed present with no risk factors. At each of your dental hygiene appointments, we do a visual screening while we are performing your cleaning. It is a good idea for you to check your mouth and the back of your throat on a regular basis at home. The rule of thumb is that if a lesion does not heal in 14 days, it should be checked by a professional. There are resources online that can be followed for monthly home screenings.

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