Everything in your life can seem perfectly fine and then suddenly get turned on its head. You’re driving like you do every day, and then your transmission suddenly breaks. Your car, which you hardly gave a second thought to, is now your number one concern and can dramatically impact your entire life. The same can be said for oral cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, almost 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year alone. Everything can seem normal until that one diagnosis, and then your whole life can change. Dr. John Hagerty and Dr. Gary Hutnik can protect you from being caught off guard by this terrible disease with oral cancer screenings in Lansing.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Like all cancers, oral cancer is an uncontrollable growth of cells that damages the surrounding tissue in the mouth and throat, and is often fatal. It usually appears as either a sore or growth in the mouth, and can often be missed in these early stages. Some common causes of oral cancer are:
- Tobacco use (smoking and smokeless)
- Excessive alcohol use
- Family history of oral cancer
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
While tobacco users are at a higher risk of oral cancer, over 25% of cases occur in people who do not smoke and only drink occasionally. The key to treating oral cancer is to catch it early, as the survival rate drops drastically after the first 5 years.
How Your Dentist Can Help
A thorough oral cancer screening is always included in your regular check-up with your dentist in Lansing at Hagerty Dentistry. They will examine your mouth, throat, jaw, and neck for any lumps or abnormalities that could indicate oral cancer. If they find something that causes concern, they may organize for you to have a biopsy so the tissue can be tested. Oral cancer, when caught within the first year, has an 81% survival rate, which is a third higher than patients who are diagnosed after 5 years. The sooner it is caught, the easier it will be to treat. Regular check-ups and screenings can not only help your teeth stay healthy, but may save your life as well. This is one of the many reasons it is so important that you visit your dentist on a regular basis.
The things you really have to watch out for in life are the ones you don’t know about. Oral cancer starts very subtly and takes a long time to develop, so it’s very easy for it to become quite advanced before you start to notice symptoms. At this point, it is often too late for it to be treated successfully. You can save yourself from the risk and heartache of cancer by simply getting regular screenings at Hagerty Dentistry. Each check-up could be the one that helps you catch it early.
If you’d like to know more about how to prevent oral cancer, or want to schedule an appointment today, please give us a call.