Free exams in Plymouth, MN

Oral Cancer Screenings

In April 2015, Life Smiles offered free oral cancer screenings. The Oral Cancer Foundation is encouraging practices like ours to participate in providing free oral cancer screenings to our communities. A few facts about oral cancer:

  • 50,000 people will be diagnosed with head and neck cancer each year in the US
  • 24 people a day die from oral cancer
  • The survival rate after 5 years is only 57% (an increase from 50% in past decades)
  • Roger Ebert and Michael Douglas were both diagnosed with oral cancer.
  • Did you know that oral cancer has been on the rise in younger populations?

Previously, oral cancer was found in people ages 40 and above with a history of smoking/tobacco use.  Now, due to the spread of the HPV virus, oral cancer is being found in people much younger and without a history of tobacco use. Risk factors include:

  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • The combination of alcohol and tobacco use dramatically increases the risk of the disease.
  • Prolonged sun exposure
  • Exposure to viral oncogenes (HPV, Herpes)

Early detection, as with all cancers, determines the rate of recovery. Currently, patients have a 57% survival rate after 5 years. This is mostly because oral cancer is so hard to detect early. Your dental professional will conduct a thorough screening at each 6 month dental check up. The most common areas are:

  • the back of the throat (i.e. base of the tongue, larynx and pharynx),
  • the sides of the tongue,
  • and in “pockets” of skin between the teeth and lips (typically due to use of chewing tobacco).

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