As April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month we wanted to focus on this very important and largely overlooked illness. Each year the Oral Cancer Foundation, a national non-profit organization designed to save lives through prevention, education, research and support activities, strives to ensure that more people are getting regular check-ups and are aware of the prevalence of oral cancer. Approximately 43,250 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2014 and this encompasses mouth cancer, tongue cancer, tonsil cancer and throat cancer. This will be the fifth year in a row in which there has been an increase in the rate of occurrences of oral cancers.
In fact, despite the rise of oral cancer, a recent study conducted by UMass Medical School and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that although there have been extensive nationwide efforts to curb the use of tobacco products and cigarettes, the use of smokeless tobacco products are being highly used by youth. Products like e-cigarettes or vapor cigarettes have recently grown in popularity. Even celebrities have been spotted using e-cigarette brands such as blu or V2 Cigs. However, these products still contain tobacco and the addictive chemical nicotine. In fact smoking one cartridge of a blu cigarette is equal to an entire pack of cigarettes.
When discovered at an early stage of development, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 percent survival rate. However, at this point in time the majority of cases are found in the late stages and this accounts for the high mortality rate of 43 percent.
We at Mitchell Dentistry cannot stress enough the importance of becoming aware of this issue, going to your dentist office for your regular 6-month check-ups (as we do pay special attention to any areas of concern in your mouth and throat or on your gums), or even getting screenings by an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor (ENT). It is through these methods that early detection may be possible. To learn more you can visit the Oral Cancer Foundation website at www.oralcancerfoundation.org.