The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and the Cavaliers are on their way to an NBA championship! What a wonderful time to live in Cleveland, Ohio.
Unbeknownst to most patients when they have their bi-annual check-up the doctor and the hygienist are performing an oral cancer evaluation. Approximately 34,000 people are diagnosed per year with cancers of the mouth and oropharynx. Most oral cancers occur in the tongue, the floor of the mouth, and the lips. It also occurs less commonly on the gums, roof of the mouth, and salivating glands. Oropharyngeal cancer can occur on the back of the tongue, the uvula, tonsils, and the back and side walls of the throat. More than half of the patients with oral cancers are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.
The chance of successful treatment of these cancers are highest if detected early. Although the exact causes of oral cancers are unknown more than 90% of patients with oral cancers use tobacco in some form. The risks increase with the length of the habit and the amount used. About 80% of patients with oral cancer are heavy drinkers. People who drink and smoke have a six times greater chance of developing oral cancer than someone who does not drink. There are numerous additional risk factors including ill-fitting dentures and sharp or jagged fillings or teeth. Oral cancer can have many symptoms, the most common of which is a sore or lesion in the mouth which does not heal.
If you or someone you love has an area in the mouth that they are concerned about, contact our office for a consultation. Should you wish to know more about the subject, visit www.cancer.gov.
Michael W. Dagostino, DDS