Posts for tag: oral cancer
Fans of the legendary rock band Steely Dan received some sad news a few months ago: Co-founder Walter Becker died unexpectedly at the age of 67. The cause of his death was an aggressive form of esophageal cancer. This disease, which is related to oral cancer, may not get as much attention as some others. Yet Becker's name is the latest addition to the list of well-known people whose lives it has cut short—including actor Humphrey Bogart, writer Christopher Hitchens, and TV personality Richard Dawson.
As its name implies, esophageal cancer affects the esophagus: the long, hollow tube that joins the throat to the stomach. Solid and liquid foods taken into the mouth pass through this tube on their way through the digestive system. Worldwide, it is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths.
Like oral cancer, esophageal cancer generally does not produce obvious symptoms in its early stages. As a result, by the time these diseases are discovered, both types of cancer are most often in their later stages, and often prove difficult to treat successfully. Another similarity is that dentists can play an important role in oral and esophageal cancer detection.
Many people see dentists more often than any other health care professionals—at recommended twice-yearly checkups, for example. During routine examinations, we check the mouth, tongue, neck and throat for possible signs of oral cancer. These may include lumps, swellings, discolorations, and other abnormalities—which, fortunately, are most often harmless. Other symptoms, including persistent coughing or hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and unexplained weight loss, are common to both oral and esophageal cancer. Chest pain, worsening heartburn or indigestion and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also alert us to the possibility of esophageal cancer.
Cancer may be a scary subject—but early detection and treatment can offer many people the best possible outcome. If you have questions about oral or esophageal cancer, call our office or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”
Regular checkups with your dentist help more than just your smile. Today let’s focus on Oral Cancer.
Oral cancer is expected to strike more than 34,000 Americans this year, but it’s preventable!!! Early detection is key. Having a routine, yearly scheduled dental appointment could save your life!
It’s important to be aware of the following signs and symptoms and to see your dentist if they do not disappear after two weeks: A sore or irritation that doesn't go away; red or white patches; pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips; a lump, thickening, rough spot, crusted or small eroded area; difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw; a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth.
If your dentist finds something abnormal or suspicious, do not panic! As with everything in life, it is better to err on the side of caution. Your dentist won’t be able to tell right away if what he or she is looking at is cancerous, so he or she may decide to reexamine you a week or two later to see if questionable spots are healing on their own before recommending anything further; do a simple in office biopsy; or refer you for further testing. In any event, PREVENTION and DETECTION is the first step.
FUN, WACKY, & OTHER HOLIDAYS:
June 7 National Chocolate Ice Cream Day (Don’t forget to Brush!)
June 14 Flag Day
June 15 Smile Power Day
June 17 Eat Your Vegetables Day
June 17 Father’s Day
June 29 Hug Holiday