Observe Oral Cancer Awareness Month through screenings
When caught early, oral cancers are highly treatable and often have a better prognosis. Oral health experts believe April’s designation as Oral Cancer Awareness Month is a useful time to raise patient and provider awareness about the disease, according to ADA News.
The National Cancer Institute estimates there were 42,440 new cases of oral cancer — and pharynx cancer — in 2014, and 8,390 deaths. Death rates among white males have not changed significantly between 2007 and 2011, according to NCI.
Still, most oral cancer diagnoses are “caught late,” said Dr. John Hellstein, president of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology at the University of Iowa and former chair of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. “That’s why we want dentists at every appointment to look for any kind of abnormality.”
Dentists should look for signs of oral cancer during any routine visit, according to Dr. Hellstein. “Attentiveness is the key,” he said.
The ADA encourages its members to promote early oral cancer detection through periodic extraoral and intraoral examinations and, with constituent societies, it promotes prevention and early detection of oral cancer through public education activities. The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs encourages clinicians to provide adult patients with thorough hard-tissue and soft-tissue exams, including lymph node examination, following completion of the patient’s health history and risk assessment.
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