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Dentists recommend annual oral cancer screenings

February 28, 2011|from KY3 News | lrose@ky3.com

Early detection is the key to fighting cancer.  One common cancer is often missed because no one is looking.
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 A recent gum disease diagnosis has Rita Mizrahi concerned about another issue: oral cancer.

"I'm sure oral cancer is also important to get screened," said Mizrahi.

She's right.  In the past, older men were the target population.  Now, everyone is at risk. "

Most of us don't realize that every day 100 people are diagnosed with oral cancer," said periodontist Dr. Greg Diamond. 

Oral cancer risk factors include:  tobacco use, alcohol consumption, UV or X-ray exposure and a new player -- the human papilloma virus.   

"We're all prone to the HPV virus.  There's no longer, 'who's prone to developing oral cancer?' Everybody in the world today is prone to oral cancer," said Diamond.

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Lesions, bumps or sores can appear anywhere in the mouth or throat.

"They have a white-ish appearance, they have a reddish appearance, not necessarily bumpy, not painful," said periodontist Dr. Mark Schlesinger. 

In addition to keeping tabs yourself, your dentist should do an oral cancer screening at least once a year.  

"And not just a visual inspection. Like something that involves that feeling, that touching, they're moving the tongue around. You have to look in-depth in the mouth in order to visualize the cancer," said Schlesinger.   

And if a lesion is detected, there is a plan.   

"We can then either watch these lesions for periods of time, retest them, and eventually refer out or biopsy them within our office to determine if there is treatment, determine what stage they're in and what type of treatment," said Diamond.

Early detection is the key to beating oral cancer.  If you have an odd bump or sore in your mouth, watch it for two weeks.  If it's still there, make an appointment with your dentist.

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