At Crabtree Dental in Katy TX, every checkup includes an examination for signs of oral cancer. Is our dentist being overly-cautious?
In a word, no. When it comes to oral cancer statistics, two numbers are key: 40% and 90%.
40% of those who receive a late-stage diagnosis die within five years. However, the survival rate for early stage diagnosis is 90%.
Oral Cavity and Oropharynx—Mouth and Throat
Cancers that originate in the mouth (or oral cavity) are termed oral cancers. The oral cavity is composed of the inside tissue of the mouth and cheeks, the lips, the tissue below the tongue, the roof of the mouth, and the front two-thirds of the tongue. “Why only two-thirds of the tongue?” you might ask. Because the back third of the tongue is considered part of the throat. Throat cancers, or oropharyngeal cancers, start in the oropharynx, the part of the mouth behind the parts considered part of the oral cavity. The oropharynx is comprised of the soft palate, the tonsils, and the throat.
How Are Oral Cancers Diagnosed?
Some oral cancers generate symptoms which prompt the patient to see a doctor and others are found by dentists and doctors during exams. Thousands of lives could be saved every year if more people received regular screenings.
A visual oral cancer exam is relatively quick and convenient, especially compared to other cancer screening tests such as colonoscopies and mammograms. If an abnormality is discovered during an exam, the patient is referred to an appropriate specialist for further testing and diagnosis.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
- Tobacco use (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or snuff)
- Heavy drinking
- Unhealthy diet
- HPV infection
- Weak immune system
- Frequent exposure to UV light (a risk factor for cancers of the lips)
At Crabtree Dental in Katy TX, we don’t take any chances. Oral cancer screenings are a regular part of our preventive dentistry. We also provide general and family dentistry, and many other services. Schedule an appointment with us today!
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