The Connecticut State Dental Association (CSDA) reminds residents to visit their dentist for regular screening during Oral Cancer Awareness Month. The CSDA hopes to improve early detection and lower fatalities by educating the public about common risk factors and symptoms associated with oral cancer.
“According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, in 2016 more than 48,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer, with an estimated survival rate of only 57%,” stated Dr. William Nash, President of the CSDA. “Oral Health Awareness Month provides an opportunity for the CSDA to encourage residents to visit their dentist for an oral cancer screening. Dentists can help provide early detection of the disease so that patients can take appropriate action.”
Age is one of the most common risk factors associated with oral cancer. In the past, individuals over the age of 40 were a majority of those diagnosed. Age continues to be a relevant risk factor, along with smoking and moderate alcohol consumption. However, recent data shows the largest population of oral cancer patients are younger non-smokers under the age of 50. Certain viruses and bacteria have also been linked to oral cancer. For example, the human papilloma virus, specifically HPV16, has been definitively implicated in causing oral cancer, specifically those that occur in the back of the mouth.
The CSDA warns residents that identifying early stages of oral cancer can be difficult for the average person. Common symptoms include white or red patches of tissue in the mouth or a small ulcer similar to a canker sore. Since there are many benign tissue changes that normally occur in the mouth, it is important to have a dentist examine any sore or discolored area that does not heal within 14 days.