BY BARRY WARNER
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, almost 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or throat cancer this year. The 5 year survival rate of those diagnosed is only slightly more than 64 percent. When cancer is treated early, treatment-related health problems are reduced.
Dr. Marc Levine of ENT (ear, nose and throat) and Allergy Associates said, “When advances in technology allow us to easily prevent a highly disfiguring and deadly disease, we know that our world of medicine is heading in the right direction. ENT doctors deal with cancer of the mouth and pharynx, therefore, the key is screening for early detection of lesions in a precancerous or dysplasia stage. If curable, the lesions can be removed and monitored carefully. The red or white spots are screened in the office with a CDx Brush Biopsy. The special CDx brush has tiny bristles that collect cells from all 3 layers of the epithelium, as the tool is applied and rotated on the oral spot. The thousands of cells of the tongue, lip or mouth are transferred to a slide, a fixative is added and then it is sent to the computer lab for analysis by a pathologist.”
Levine continued, “The purpose of the screenings are to heighten patient awareness of risks from smoking, chewing tobacco, alcohol consumption and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
The incidence of oral cancer in women is increasing and females now account for about one third of all cancer cases. Identifying and treating epithelial dysplasias before it becomes cancer, has proven to be one of the most effective methods. Even if the lesion is benign, it is important to follow-up with a physician. Also, many mouth washes contain 20 percent alcohol, so patients with lesions are encouraged to use an alcohol-free mouth wash.”
The mouth is one of the body’s most important early warning systems. It is important not to ignore any suspicious lumps or sores that lasts more than 2 weeks. A prompt appointment should be made for an examination with a dentist or ENT doctor, as early treatment may be the key to a complete recovery. Mouth cancer patients suffer greatly owing to face deformity, loss of teeth, damage to the tongue and throat plus difficulty in talking and eating. Common signs and symptoms include:
. a sore or irritation that doesn’t go away.
. red or white patches.
. pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth or lips.
. a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area.
. difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue.
Take a proactive approach, visit your physician and learn more about your personal risk factors in recognition of Oral Cancer Awareness and Screening month. Early detection is important because treatment often works best before the disease spreads. Once a person is diagnosed, the cancer is staged to determine the extent of the malady and then a treatment plan is established based on the person’s situation. Alter lifestyle habits that are in your control, such as quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake. It is also important to use sunscreen regularly and frequently, so apply lip balm with an appropriate SPF. For additional information www.oralcancerfoundation.org