Thursday, April 18, 2013

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month!

Right now in the United States, a person dies every hour from oral cancer.  That is someone's mother or son, husband or friend for every 60 minutes of every day... of every week... of every month, every year, and the numbers are growing. In over 40 years, the survival rate has not improved. 

This month, we take the time to help raise awareness of this devastating illness.

Most Americans have not been taught where to look, how to look, or what to look for when it comes to oral cancer. Two-thirds of of all oral cancers are not caught until the late stages, greatly decreasing the diagnosed individual's chance of survival.  This is why at Circle C Dental, we do regular oral cancer checks for our patients' health.  In its early stages, oral cancer may appear as a white or red patch of tissue in the mouth, or a small ulcer which looks like a common canker sore.  It is important to have have any sore or discolored area of your mouth, which does not heal within 14 days, looked at by a professional.  If you notice something out of the ordinary, let us know!  If after an examination the area is determined to be suspicious, the only way to know for sure if it is something dangerous, is to do a biopsy of the area. This is not painful, is inexpensive, and takes little time. It is important to have a firm diagnosis as early as possible. The sooner the cancer is caught, the greater the chance of survival. 

To lower your risk of oral cancer, avoid tobacco products and heavy alcohol consumption.  People who both smoke and drink, have a 15 times greater risk of developing oral cancer than others. 

For an inspirational account, check out this story on one of America's most well-renowned chefs: Grant Achatz.  He was diagnosed with late-stage cancer of the tongue, survived it, and is still kicking culinary butt at his Chicago restaurant, Alinea.

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