DETECTING ORAL CANCER
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month
A routine visit to the dentist may save your life. Nearly 36,500 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer each year and almost 7,900 will die from the disease. Oral cancer accounts for about two percent of all cancers annually diagnosed in the United States.
Traditionally, individuals with the highest risk for developing oral cancer are those who smoke, use tobacco, frequently exposed to the sun, and/or drink alcohol heavily. Recently, studies have found exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) is now a significant risk factor. The fastest-growing oral cancer population are older, smokers with HPV.
If detected and treated in a timely fashion, death by oral cancer can dramatically be reduced. If oral cancer is left undiagnosed or untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body and greatly lower your survival rate. Early detection of oral cancer is often possible because tissue changes in the mouth that may reflect the beginnings of cancer can usually be seen or felt.
Warning Signs & Symptoms:
Mouth cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth, including the lips, tongue and throat, as well as the salivary glands, pharynx, larynx and sinuses. And because early detection is crucial in overcoming this disease, you’ll want to visit your doctor immediately if any of the following symptoms persist for more than two weeks.
- Sores, ulcers, lumps or swellings on the lip, around your mouth or throat that do not heal
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue or lining of the mouth
- Unusual bleeding, pain or numbness anywhere in the mouth
- Oral pain that does not go away
- Difficulty or pain with chewing, swallowing or opening your jaw
- Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable
- Tooth loosening with no apparent cause
- Lingering sore throat or hoarseness
- Pain in your ears but still have the ability to hear
- Sensory loss in the face
- Abnormal taste in the mouth
Here are easy, and potentially life-saving steps to take charge of your oral health:
- Be sure your dentist or hygienist cleans and screens your teeth and mouth at every visit.
- Ask your dentist or doctor for information on HPV vaccination. 11 to 12 is the age recommendation for the vaccination.
- If a sore throat or swallowing problems persist after 2 weeks, contact your doctor.
When in doubt, seek prevention!
Regardless, everyone should practice good daily hygiene to prevent tooth decay and gum disease: Brushing and flossing regularly and limiting sweets. Regulating lifestyle choices like smoking, alcohol use, diet and sun exposure can significantly lower your risk of developing oral cancer.
Dr. Kay got her medical education in Brazil.
Dr. Kay also has a master degree in Film and Television from UCLA and has been an adviser for medical television shows.
Dr. Kay is very active in the Health Industry. She is a member of the American Board of Home Care, the National Association of Home Care, CAHSAH, California Association of Health Services at Home. She co-chairs the education committee for the Down with Falls Coalition. Dr. Kay is in the speaker’s bureau for the coalition helping educate health care professionals and the community on fall risks, diabetes, adverse drug reaction, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, dehydration and nutrition, etc…. for older adults.
Dr. Kay was nominated by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) as the Remarkable Woman of 2008.
Dr. Kay is actively involved in many philanthropy and non-profit organizationssuch as the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, the Philharmonic Society, Women Helping Women, Youth Employment Services, E-Women, Women Sage, Plasticos Foundation, CIELO and others.
Dr. Kay’s passion is to assist seniors to live long and thrive in the comfort of their own home.
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