Our mouth is used to eat, drink, smile, speak, laugh and kiss. But when cancer affects our mouths, it does more than take away these everyday functions. It takes lives.
In fact, close to 45,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 8,650 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 45,750 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in five years. Oral cancer isn’t hard to diagnose, but unfortunately, it often isn’t discovered until late in its development.
Because regular screenings are vital for early detection and increased survival, the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation is encouraging everyone to attend the Oral Cancer Walk for Awareness and take advantage of the FREE oral cancer screenings available at the event. It’s a quick, painless and easy process. The dentist or hygienist will begin with a visual inspection of your inner cheeks, under your tongue and the sides of your tongue. He/she will feel around your jaw and look for any hard lumps that could signal a tumor. Simple!
However, if you have any of the following symptoms call your dentist now–it could be a sign of oral cancer:
- A sore in the mouth that does not heal (most common symptom)
- Pain in the mouth that doesn’t go away (also very common)
- A lump or thickening in the cheek
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil or lining of the mouth
- A sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat that doesn’t go away
- Trouble chewing or swallowing
- Trouble moving the jaw or tongue
- Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth
For more information about oral cancer, read our four-part series:
- Oral Cancer Facts and Figures
- Oral Cancer Risk Factors
- Open Wide: Oral Cancer Screening
- You Have Oral Cancer. Now What?
If you’re free on Saturday, April 25, please join us for the Oral Cancer Walk for Awareness at the Phoenix Zoo. We’d love to have you walk with us to raise funds and awareness of this disease!