By: Dr. Stacey Robben, DDS
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. This month marks the 24th annual observance that emphasizes the importance of having an oral cancer screening done during your normally scheduled dental exams and self-screening at home between dental visits.
Oral cancer is also known as oropharyngeal cancer. It is cancer of the back of the oral cavity and upper throat. This year an estimated 54,600 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. HPV- related oropharyngeal cancer has risen over the past two decades, while oral cancer linked to tobacco and alcohol use has declined over the same period. If detected and treated early, treatment-related health problems are reduced, and survival rates may increase. Regular oral cancer examinations performed by your oral health professional remain the best method for detecting oral cancer in its early stages. At Valley-Wide, we are doing more oral cancer trainings with our dentist and hygienists to ensure that we are providing patients with the highest care possible. We had two trainings happen so far. One in August 2022 and one in February 2023 with the Alliance for HPV Free Colorado. They presented to the dentists and hygienists about increasing HPV awareness and prevention of Oropharyngeal cancer in the dental clinics.
What symptoms should I be looking for? Signs and symptoms for HPV caused cancer and oral cancer caused by tobacco usage and/or alcohol usage are slightly different. See the table below for what to look for.
The most important thing to remember is to call your dentist if you have any immediate concerns.
If you have never had an oral cancer examination, there is no better time than to schedule one during Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Call 1-833-350-1113 to schedule an appointment with a dentist at Valley-Wide today! It is also a good time to do a self-screening at home. Visit checkyourmouth.org for a short video on how to perform a self-screening.