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Oral Cancer - An Overview of Oral Cancer

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Updated: October 11, 2007

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Oral Cancer Facts: According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, someone dies from oral cancer every hour of every day in the United States alone. Over 300,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed every year, worldwide. This serious dental disease which pertains to the mouth, lips or throat is often highly curable if diagnosed and treated in the early stages.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors: Tobacco use is the number one risk factor in oral cancer. Studies have shown that at least 75% of those diagnosed were either current or former tobacco users. Heavy use of alcohol among tobacco users has been proven to have a 15% greater risk of developing oral cancer than tobacco users that aren't heavy alcohol users. Age and prolonged exposure to radiation or sunlight are contributing factors as well.
Oral Cancer Signs & Symtoms: Unfortunately, in its early stages, oral cancer can go unnoticed. Oral Cancer could look like a common ulcer, cold sore or a discoloration of tissue. Fortunately, your dentist can see or feel if a lesion looks cancerous. If you have any type of lesion in your mouth, or on your lips, that doesn’t heal within two weeks, or a difficulty in swallowing for a prolonged period of time, it is very important to see your dentist right away.
Oral Cancer Treatment: If your dentist does find a suspicious lesion in your mouth, he / she might remove it, but will most likely send you to a specialist for a removal and biopsy, which is a painless procedure.

If oral cancer is detected early enough, it could possibly be treated with surgery alone. Radiation combined with surgery would likely be used if the cancer is in its advanced stages.

Oral Cancer Prevention: The best preventions of oral cancer are not to use tobacco of any kind and only drink alcohol in moderation. Avoid prolonged exposure to sun or use a sunscreen on your lips. Visit your dentist every 6 months for regular check ups. When your dentist examines your mouth at your routine check up appointments, he/ she is also screening you for oral cancer. This process only takes about 90 seconds and consists of a visual examination for any presence of cancer.
Oral Cancer Summary: Although the number of deaths each year from oral cancer is astounding, it is highly curable if diagnosed early. Prevention is a key factor in oral cancer and a 90 second dental examination could save your life.

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