Every year, oral cancer claims around 10,000 lives in the U.S. Although it is not as prevalent as other forms of cancer, that doesn’t mean it is unworthy of attention. Let’s talk about the stages of this disease and why regularly getting an oral cancer screening in Colorado Springs is so important.
Stages of Oral Cancer
Here is an overview of the stages of oral cancer:
- Stage 0. This describes abnormal cells that have the potential to develop into cancer.
- Stage 1. The cancerous growth is less than 2 centimeters in diameter, and it has not spread into nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage 2. The tumor is 2 – 4 centimeters in size but has not spread into the lymph nodes.
- Stage 3. Either the cancer is larger than 4 centimeters, or it has spread into a lymph node.
- Stage 4. The cancer has spread beyond its original location. It may have worked its way into the lymph nodes, other parts of the oral cavity, or even more distant areas.
The Importance of Early Detection
Data from the National Cancer Institute reveals that the 5-year survival rate for oral cancer is 83% in cases where the cancer has not spread. The survival rate drops to 64% in cases where the lymph nodes are affected. Sadly, only 38% of patients survive for 5 years if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Clearly, when it comes to oral cancer, early detection saves lives. Often, it is a dentist in Colorado Springs or a member of their team who notices the first signs of the disease. During a screening, they look for things such as oddly colored tissues and strange growths anywhere in or around the oral cavity. If they spot any areas that look concerning, they quickly help patients arrange for further testing.
Oral cancer screening is painless and quick — if you haven’t been screened in the last 12 months, now is the time to schedule an appointment. It might just save your life!
Preventing and Treating Oral Cancer
You can lower your risk of oral cancer by avoiding tobacco products, limiting your alcohol intake, and avoiding excessive sun exposure. A balanced diet can also support your overall wellness and lower your risk for numerous types of cancer.
If, despite your best efforts, you are diagnosed with cancer, your treatment will depend on the severity of your condition. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are all commonly used. Cancer treatments may cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as dry mouth and mouth sores, which your dentist can help you to manage.
Oral cancer poses a significant threat, and no one should dismiss the idea that it could affect them. Thankfully, your dentist is ready to help you detect and manage this serious condition.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Erick Anderson is an experienced dentist who regularly includes oral cancer screenings as part of checkups in Colorado Springs. He has decades of experience and is ready to serve you and your family. To learn more about Dr. Anderson and how our practice may be able to serve you, contact us at 719-593-0988.