Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April: Know Your Risk Factors and Screenings
Many people took the ability to taste and smell for granted before the Covid pandemic, and now have a newfound gratitude for these functions. But you may not appreciate the serious nature of other conditions that could affect your senses, including cancers of the mouth and upper throat. As part of its Oral Cancer Awareness Month screening campaign for April 2021, the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) revealed some disturbing statistics:
- On an annual basis, cancers of the mouth and throat kill about one person every hour.
- Around 54,000 people are diagnosed with these and related ailments every year.
- A person who is diagnosed with a mouth or throat cancer has only a 60 percent chance of living longer than 5 years.
Part of the motivation behind the OCF initiative is that oral cancer awareness is extremely low, so it is important to be aware of risk factors and lifestyle choices. However, dentists and physicians have a duty to provide care within acceptable medical standards, which includes making a proper, timely diagnosis. You should discuss your situation with a Miami cancer malpractice attorney if you have concerns, but some information may be helpful.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer: Diagnosing these cancers can be challenging, as the OCF reports that an estimated 25 percent of patients do not have any known risk factors. For this reason, you should pay special attention to symptoms, such as mouth sores that do not heal, lumps or unusual textures, and loosening teeth. However, lifestyle changes and more frequent screenings may be necessary for those who possess certain risk factors for oral and pharyngeal cancers, such as:
- Alcohol Consumption: The liver does much of the body’s job in digesting alcohol, but some chemical changes take place in the mouth. Acetaldehyde is produced through the process, and it can cause cancer by damaging cells and preventing the body from repairing them.
- Smoking: Tobacco smoke contains chemicals that can lead to genetic changes in the cells of the mouth, which can result in the development of cancer. Note that the risk of cancer increases by a factor of 15 when a person uses alcohol and tobacco in combination, as compared to one or the other.
- HPV: One of the most common communicable diseases in the US, HPV can cause oral cancers when the infection persists or goes untreated. It mainly affects the back of the throat, base of the tongue, and tonsils.
The Importance of Screenings for Oral Cancer: If you experience risk factors, you can reduce the threat by addressing those that you can change. Still, there are the 25 percent of individuals who have no known risk factors, and not everyone is able to quit smoking or drinking. As such, it is critical for your physician to be proactive in the presence of risk factors. Ordering screenings and lab tests should be a priority, since an early diagnosis provides the best chances for recovery.
Contact Our Florida Cancer Malpractice Lawyers for More Information
If you have developed oral cancer and have concerns about the diagnosis or treatment you received, please contact Freidin Brown, P.A. to set up a free consultation at our offices in Miami or Fort Myers, FL. After assessing your circumstances, we can explain your legal rights and remedies.