FALLBROOK – In honor of April being Oral Cancer Awareness month, the office of Dr. Edwin Stewart and Dr. Shannon Jardina are hosting free oral cancer screenings on Friday, April 12. These screenings will be available to the public from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the office address of 521 East Alvarado Street.
Unfortunately, oral cancer is not a rare disease. Close to 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 8,000 deaths, killing roughly one person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 42,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in five years. Historically the death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development. The good news is that it can often be found early in its development, through a simple, painless, and quick screening.
What is an oral cancer screening?
An oral cancer screening is a visual and tactile exam that takes just a few minutes.
A health care provider inspects and feels the patient’s face, neck, lips, and mouth to look for any signs of cancer or pre-cancerous tissues changes, such as red and/or white patches, or thickened areas.
Who should get screened?
Every adult should get screened. Oral cancer can often be caught early, even as a pre-cancer. With early detection, survival rates are higher and the side effects from treatment are lower. Like other screenings, such as cervical, skin, prostate, colon and breast examinations, oral cancer screenings are an effective means of finding cancer at its early, highly curable stages. Make them part of each annual health check-up.
What are the the risk factors?
There are two distinct pathways by which most people come to oral cancer. One is through the use of tobacco and alcohol, a long term historic problem and cause. The other is through exposure to the HPV16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16), which is now the leading cause of oral cancers in the US, and the same one, which is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women. The quickest growing segment of the oral cancer population is young, healthy, non-smokers due to the connection to this virus.
Red and/or white discolorations of the soft tissues of the mouth.
Any sore which does not heal within 14 days.
Hoarseness which lasts for a prolonged period of time.
• A sensation that something is stuck in the throat.
• Numbness in the oral region.
• Difficulty in moving the jaw or tongue.
• Difficulty in swallowing.
• Ear pain which occurs on one side only.
• A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, still does not heal.
• A lump or thickening which develops in the mouth or on the neck.
An oral cancer screening should be conducted every year, so take advantage of this opportunity and get screened today. Call (760) 723-3535 to make an appointment for a complimentary screening.
For more information about oral cancer, check The Oral Cancer Foundation’s official website at www.oralcancerfoundation.org.