Around 39,500 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth or throat this year. The American Cancer Society projects that 7,500 Americans will die from oral cancer in the next 12 months, and the five-year survival rate of men and women diagnosed with oral cancer is less than 60 percent.
Oral cancer screenings are the key to catching the problem before it is life threatening. Dr. Nooshi Akavan, a top orthodontist in Northridge, California, specializes in examinations to look for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. She can detect mouth cancer at an early stage, when there is a higher probability of a cure.
Dr. Nooshi Akavan includes a basic cancer screening during dental visits for patients in Northridge, California. If she notices problem spots, additional tests may be required to identify areas of abnormal cells.
Oral cancer attacks the lips, cheek lining, gums, tongue, the floor of your mouth beneath your tongue, the hard palate that makes up the roof of your mouth, your tonsils and your throat. A National Cancer Institute reports states that 30 percent of oral cancer originates in the tongue, 17 percent in the lip and 14 percent in the floor of the mouth.
Dr. Akavan schedules regular dental examinations to catch early cancer signs. Patients in Northridge, California, also should consult a dentist if they notice a number of symptoms that may indicate the presence of cancer in the mouth or throat.
Watch for a sore or irritation that doesn’t go away or new red or white patches. Pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth or lips also are symptoms.
Dr. Akavan asks patients to check for lumps, thickening, rough spots or crusts and abrasions in the mouth. Cancer might cause difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the tongue or jaw. A change in the way your teeth fit together also might be an early sign of cancer.
Several factors can cause oral cancer, according to Dr. Nooshi Akavan. Historically, 75 percent of oral cancer cases are linked to tobacco and alcohol use. Scientists also have linked the HPV16 virus, known to be transmitted sexually, to numerous cases in people younger than 50.
Cancer survival correlates with stage, which makes early detection important, according to the American Dental Association. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are common forms of treatment.
Dr. Nooshi Akavan tells patients in Northridge, California, to make dental appointments every six months to help detect precancerous signs.