Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms- You CAN Fight It!

Ignorance is Not Bliss!  Know the possible signs and symptoms:

The Oral Cancer Foundation has published the following information:
One of the real dangers of this cancer is that in its early stages, it can go unnoticed. It can be painless, and little in the way of physical changes may be obvious. The good news is however, that your dentist or doctor can, in many cases, see or feel the precursor tissue changes or the actual cancer while it is still very small, or in its earliest stages. More about the stages of cancer.

It may appear as a white or red patch of tissue in the mouth, or a small indurated ulcer which looks like a common canker sore. Because there are so many benign tissue changes that occur normally in your mouth, and some things as simple as a bite on the inside of your cheek may mimic the look of a dangerous tissue change, it is important to have any sore or discolored area of your mouth, which does not heal within 14 days, looked at by a professional. Other symptoms include; a lump or mass which can be felt inside the mouth or neck, pain or difficulty in swallowing, speaking, or chewing, any wart like masses, hoarseness which lasts for a long time, or any numbness in the oral/facial region. Unilateral persistent ear ache can also be a warning sign.

Other than the lips which are not a major site for occurrence any longer, common areas for oral cancer to develop in the anterior (front) of the mouth are on the tongue and the floor of the mouth. Individuals that use chewing tobacco, are likely to have them develop in the sulcus between the lip or cheek and the soft tissue (gingiva) covering the lower jaw (mandible) where the plug of tobacco is held repeatedly. There are also a small number of cancers that are unique to the salivary glands, as well as the very dangerous melanoma. While the occurrence of these are dwarfed by the other oral cancers, they are a small percentage of the total incidence rate. In the US, cancers of the hard palate are uncommon, though not unknown. The base of the tongue at the back of the mouth, the oropharynx (the back of the throat) and on the pillars of the tonsils, and the tonsillar crypt and the tonsil itself, are other sites where it is now more commonly found, particularly in young non smoking individuals. If your dentist or doctor decides that an area is 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. It is possible that your general dentist or medical doctor, may refer you to a specialist to have the biopsy performed. This is not cause for alarm, but a normal part of referring that happens between doctors of different specialties. More about biopsy and diagnosis

Any discussion of diagnosis must be prefaced with the issue of discovery. While an annual screening for oral cancer is important, it is possible that you will notice some change in your mouth or throat that needs examination between your annual screenings. You are the most important factor in an early diagnosis. You should always contact your doctor or dentist immediately if you notice the following symptoms in yourself or a loved one:
  • A sore or lesion in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks.
  • A lump or thickening in the cheek.
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth.
  • A sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat.
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue.
  • Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth.
  • Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable.
  • Chronic hoarseness.
It is so important to us that you are taking all health screenings seriously.  We are here to help you stay healthy and get the best out of your radiant smile and strong teeth.  You are investing in your future when you take the time to make sure all is well.  And if something is discovered you have a much greater chance at a successful treatment and recovery than you do if problems advance.

We are coming to the end of April, call today 
to schedule your FREE Oral Cancer Exam!
(541) 451-1440

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What to Expect During Your Oral Cancer Screening

Over 40,000 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed in the US this year and many more cases will be diagnosed with dysplasia (pre-cancer).  This includes those cancers that occur in the mouth itself, in the very back of the mouth known as the oropharynx, and on the exterior lip of the mouth. Oral cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer in North America. Statistics reveal that more cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in a year than cervical or ovarian cancer, and more people die from oral cancer in a year than from melanoma or cervical cancer. Thankfully approximately 84 percent of oral cancer cases may detected early by a dental professional.

Screening for oral cancer is quick and easy, with no pain or discomfort involved. It's critical for early diagnosis and prevention. It takes less than five minutes, and can be done by our dental hygienist or Dr. Clark. They will be looking for any lumps or abnormalities, red, white or grey areas and/or tenderness.

What You Can Expect

1.     We will physically examine and inspect the outside and inside of your gums and cheeks, extending all the way from top to bottom and front to back. 
2.     We will examine and inspect the floor of your mouth underneath your tongue and the roof of your mouth.
3.     We will touch and inspect your lymph nodes in your neck and jaw, inside and outside of your lips, your major salivary glands as well as your jaw joint (TMJ) and the area around your ears.
4.     We will visually inspect your face for signs of asymmetry or swelling.
5.     We will pull out your tongue with gauze to inspect the sides, top and bottom.
6.     We’ll have you say “ahhh” in order to inspect the back of your mouth and throat.
7.     If there are any abnormal findings, a full review of your smoking and/or drinking habits, your lifestyle and any specific health concerns will be discussed along with a review of the medications you are taking which could affect the condition of your mouth, head or neck area.

Performing an oral cancer self-check
In-between dental visits you can perform a self-check by doing the following:
1.    Purchase an oral mirror available at any drugstore, this will allow you to inspect your mouth easily.
2.    Use a small, bright flashlight that you can easily move around.
3.    Check for any new lumps or bumps or extreme tenderness anywhere in your mouth.  You can touch the tissue between your thumb and forefinger, or press against your face from the outside to try and feel for bumps.  Press beneath your tongue for the bottom of your mouth.
4.    To check your tongue, grasp it with cloth or gauze extending your tongue.  Say “ahhh” to check the back of your throat and tongue.  (You may need someone to help you at this point to get a good look at the back of your throat.)
5.    During your exam watch for discolored areas or spots with unusual texture.  After you have performed a few self-check exams you will be able to tell the difference between what is normal for you and what is not.
6.    If you have any sore spots in your mouth or throat that do not heal within two weeks, or if you have difficulty swallowing please contact us immediately.

If you do see something suspicious, it does not mean you have oral cancer. Only a small number of people with abnormalities will be diagnosed with oral cancer. However, all abnormal areas need further investigation to rule out precancerous or cancerous lesions. This may include a biopsy of the suspicious area.

You can call our office and we will immediately get you in for an exam.  There is no reason to prolong worry.  Ignoring the problem is NOT THE ANSWER.  This month we are offering free Oral Cancer Exams so it’s a great time to schedule an appointment and put your mind at ease.

Schedule your FREE 
Oral Cancer Exam today!
(541) 451-1440

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Know the Facts-Beat Oral Cancer!

As you know we are offering FREE Oral Cancer screening appointments for the month of April.  Dr. Clark feels that this screening is so important he wants to support the Oral Cancer Foundation's awareness month by making this FREE screening available to all.  If you know of someone that would like this screening, simply give us a call.  They do not need to be a current patient of ours.

The Oral Cancer Foundation shares the following information about the demographics that are the most likely to develop oral cancer in their lifetime.

Age, gender, race, and ethnicity
The demographics of those who develop this cancer have been consistent for some time. While historically the majority of people are over the age of 40 at the time of discovery, it is now occurring more frequently in those under this age. Exact causes for those affected at a younger age are now becoming clearer in peer reviewed research, revealing a viral etiology (cause), the human papilloma virus number 16. There are also links to young men and women who use conventional "smokeless" chewing or spit tobacco. Promoted by some as a safer alternative to smoking, it has in actuality not proven to be any safer to those who use it when referring to oral cancers. Campaigns to promote the safety of smokeless are being initiated, but it is clear that while it may reduce lung cancers, it has a negative effect on the rates of oral cancers, pancreatic cancer, periodontal disease, and the chronic infections that it produces may even link it to heart disease as well. The gains against lung cancers may occur, but there will be new losses in other areas. The jury is out on other new smokeless tobacco dissolvable products, and until their use has acceptable research behind it we recommend avoiding it.

It is also now confirmed that  in a younger age group, including those who have never used any tobacco products, have a cause which is HPV16 viral based. The human papilloma virus, particularly version 16, has now been shown to be sexually transmitted between partners, and is conclusively implicated in the increasing incidence of young non-smoking oral cancer patients. This is the same virus that is the causative agent, along with other versions of the virus, in more than 90% of all cervical cancers. It is the foundation's belief, based on recent revelations in peer reviewed published data in the last few years, that in people under the age of 50, HPV16 may even be replacing tobacco as the primary causative agent in the initiation of the disease process.

From a gender perspective, for decades this has been a cancer which affected 6 men for every woman. That ratio has now become 2 men to each woman. Again, while published studies do not exist to draw finite conclusions, we will probably find that this increase is due to lifestyle changes, primarily the increased number of women smokers over the last few decades. It is a cancer which occurs twice as often in the black population as in whites, and survival statistics for blacks over five years are also poorer at 33%, versus 55% for whites. As in the above examples, it is unlikely we will find a genetic reason for this. Lifestyle choices still remain the biggest cause. These published statistics do not consider such socio-economic factors as income levels, education, availability of proper health care, and the increased use of both tobacco and alcohol by different ethnic populations, but all these factors likely play a role in who develops the disease.

While the demographics have changed over the past several years, the fact that oral cancer is becoming a more wide spread health concern is alarming.  As with any cancer, the earlier the detection, the better chance you have with treatment success.  

Call us today to schedule an appointment 
for your FREE screening.
(541) 451-1440.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

42,000 Americans Will Be Diagnosed This Year With Oral Cancer

This month we are offering FREE oral cancer screenings because it is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month.  Together with the Oral Cancer Foundation, we want to keep our patients healthy and give them a fighting chance against this rapidly growing cancer.  

The Oral Cancer Foundation shares the following information about oral cancer:

Rates of occurrence in the United States

Close to 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 8,000 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 42,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years. (Approximately 57%) This is a number which has not significantly improved in decades. The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we hear about routinely such as cervical cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and endocrine system cancers such as thyroid, or skin cancer (malignant melanoma).

Historically the death rate associated with oral cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development. Today, (2013) that statement is still true, as there is not a comprehensive program in the US to opportunistically screen for the disease, and without that; late stage discovery is more common. Another obstacle to early discovery (and resulting better outcomes) is the advent of a virus, HPV16, contributing more to the incidence rate of oral cancers, particularly in the posterior part of the mouth (the oropharynx, the tonsils, the base of tongue areas) which many times does not produce visible lesions or discolorations that have historically been the early warning signs of the disease process.

Oral cancer is particularly dangerous because in its early stages it may not be noticed by the patient, as it can frequently prosper without producing pain or symptoms they might readily recognize, and because it has a high risk of producing second, primary tumors. This means that patients who survive a first encounter with the disease, have up to a 20 times higher risk of developing a second cancer. This heightened risk factor can last for 5 to 10 years after the first occurrence. There are several types of oral cancers, but around 90% are squamous cell carcinomas. It is estimated that approximately $3.2 billion is spent in the United States each year on treatment of head and neck cancers. (2010 numbers).

Don't let oral cancer become part of your daily life.  
Get your free screening today!  
Call us at (541) 451- 1440 
to schedule your appointment now!