April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and IDA encourages all member dentists to get involved in helping raise awareness. Oral and pharyngeal cancer kills nearly one person every hour of every day, and almost 50,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year. Sadly, due to the link to the HPV virus, the fastest growing population being diagnosed with oral cancers are non-smoking, otherwise healthy, young adults and teens.
The death rate associated with these cancers is markedly high since most are detected in late stages. While oral and pharyngeal cancers are survivable, early detection is crucial. In order to increase the early detection rate, the Indiana Dental Association asks all its member dentists to:
- Screen each and every patient for oral cancer symptoms
- Schedule an open screening for community members
- Inform patients of the risk factors for oral cancer
- Teach patients the signs and symptoms
- Instruct patients on oral cancer self-examination
- Encourage patients to quit smoking and/or chewing tobacco
- Advise all patients to refrain from excessive alcohol drinking
Dental professionals are often the first line of defense in the early detection and treatment of oral cancer. By familiarizing themselves with the signs and symptoms, educating patients, and screening every patient at every visit, dentists can help ensure that the oral cancer survival rate increases in the future.
For more information on the dentist’s role in oral cancer detection, visit the Oral Cancer Foundation website.