November 14, 2022
A lot of interesting news has come out of England this year, but one thing that you likely won’t hear anywhere else is this—November is officially Mouth Cancer Action Month in the UK. While the US had its own Oral Cancer Awareness Month back in April, a little reminder about how to keep yourself safe from a potentially deadly disease is always welcome. Your dentist screens you for oral cancer at every checkup, but what exactly are they looking for? Knowing this information can help you keep an eye out for early symptoms so you can get the care you need right away.
The Stages of Oral Cancer
When you come in for a checkup with your dentist, they don’t just look for signs of cavities and gum disease—they are also searching for indicators of oral cancer. Similar to other cancers, it develops in distinct stages, each one indicating how advanced the disease might be:
- Stage 0: Referred to as carcinoma in situ, this refers to the presence of abnormal cells in the mouth that may or may not be cancerous.
- Stage I: There is a small growth (tumor) that is less than two centimeters.
- Stage II: The tumor is two to four centimeters, but the cancer hasn’t spread.
- Stage III: A tumor larger than four centimeters, or the cancer has reached the lymph nodes in the neck.
- Stage IV: This can refer to a tumor of any size, but the distinguishing factor is that the cancer has reached the lymph nodes, jaw, or another part of the body.
Signs to Be Aware Of
Of course, if you start to notice a symptom of oral cancer between dental appointments, you don’t have to just wait until your next six-month visit. Be sure to reach out to your dentist if:
- You have an oral sore that doesn’t heal after two weeks
- There is a discolored patch of tissue in your mouth (it should easily stand out)
- You’re frequently hoarse or have trouble swallowing
- You feel like there is something constantly stuck in your throat
- There is a noticeable and lasting change in your voice
Early Detection is Key
The survival rate for oral cancer is well over 90% when it’s found during its initial stages, but that statistic quickly drops as the disease advances. That’s why it’s so important to keep up with your regular dental checkups—a screening that takes less than a minute can literally end up saving your life.
No one likes to think about oral cancer, but with a little extra awareness and plenty of help from your dentist, you can stay ahead of this disease and give yourself one less thing to worry about.
About the Practice
Dr. Krysten Jackson and Dr. Eric Parsons are family and cosmetic dentists who graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry. Dr. Jackson completed the Advanced Education in General Dentistry program there, which is considered to be one of the most elite residencies in the country. Dr. Parsons regularly trains to use the latest technology to offer the most advanced methods of treatment. When it comes to protecting your smile, they are eager to do their part and make sure you’re never caught off guard by oral cancer. To schedule your next checkup and screening at El Reno Family Dentistry, simply click here.
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