As you know, many people avoid going to the dentist if they possibly can: after all, the dentists can be painful; or at the very least uncomfortable and there’s usually a cost involved so it’s little wonder that many people don’t exactly relish the thought of going. In the same vein though, those people will rush to their GP at the first sign of any health concern – with good reason. As we all know, with the vast majority of serious or severe health concerns or illnesses, early diagnosis and treatment is key to increased survival rates and positive prognosis. This is especially true when it comes to cancer, so it might come as a surprise to you to realise that regular check-ups with your dentist could be a key factor in diagnosing and treating Oral Cancer.
What is Oral Cancer?
As you’d expect, Oral Cancer is Cancer of the Mouth. It can appear on the lips, tongue, cheek and the roof or bottom of the mouth. As is the case with many forms of cancer, it is easily spread and can quickly enter the blood stream. Likewise, it is much more common and aggressive when smoking and heavy drinking are a factor.
As with other forms of cancer, there are some causes although it can also just occur without warning and without the patient taking or having any of the risks, such as smoking, drinking, irritation from badly fitted dentures or overbites or not taking care of your teeth.
Oral Cancer, when caught and diagnosed early, by either yourself or as part of your dental check-up with your is treatable through removal of the tumour and, where necessary radio or chemotherapy. However, one in four people who are diagnosed with oral cancer will die as a result of delayed diagnosis and/or treatment.
How Dentists Can Help
In visiting the dentist regularly, your dentist or hygienist could pick up on tiny changes in your mouth which could be the early warning signs of oral cancer. Just as breast cancer is often detected by a lump in the breast tissue and skin cancer’s early warning sign is the change in appearance, shape or size of a mole, oral cancer can appear as a lump, lesion or ulcer in your mouth that you might otherwise dismiss but a trained dentist will be able to identify that there’s a problem and refer you for the scans and tests for a full diagnosis and get you the right treatment.
A lot can happen in your mouth in the space of six months, which is the normal recommended time between dental appointments but a lot more can happen if you leave it longer between your check-ups so it’s vital to keep those appointments and keep on top of your dentist visits.
So there you have it, early diagnosis of oral cancer could save your life so as costly or uncomfortable as a check-up with your dentist might be, the alternative could be so much worse.