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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that a trip to the dentist could actually save your life? Dentists are trained to check for oral cancer, which is a condition that kills approximately 7,600 people each year. Approximately 42,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Luckily, a trip to your general dentist in Baltimore for a routine dental exam can catch the disease early.

Oral cancer can develop on the lips, tongue, gums, floor of the mouth or the roof of the mouth. This condition usually develops in people who are over the age of 40 and is more common in men than in women. Alcohol use, smoking, poor oral hygiene and the human papilloma virus infection are some of the factors that may increase a person’s chances of developing oral cancer. People who take medications that weaken their immune system may also be at an increased risk for developing oral cancer.

A lump, ulcer or sore in the mouth is one of the first signs that you may notice if you have oral cancer. These lumps, ulcers or sores are typically pale-colored, but they may also be discolored or dark-colored. Oral cancer may also be accompanied by additional symptoms, such as weight loss, painful swallowing, speech difficulties and chewing problems.

Oral cancer can very easily spread to the throat, neck and other parts of the body. That is why the five year survival rate for oral cancer is only 50 percent. The good news is that the cure rate for oral cancer is approximately 90 percent for patients who are diagnosed in the early stages.

Oral cancer screening is now a part of routine dental examinations at Dr. Lazer’s office in Baltimore. During your checkup, your dentist thoroughly inspect your mouth for unusual sores or ulcers. If your dentist finds anything unusual, then you may need to get additional testing. You should make a trip to the dentist at least once every six months.