The oral cancer awareness month begins from 1st April and encouragement is being provided to dentists and other dental professionals by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons to increase awareness of facial protection and oral cancer screenings in April.
It is believed by the foundation for oral cancer that oral and oropharyngeal cancers must be screened every year beginning from the age of 18. The foundation recommends visual and tactile screenings that are quick, usually free or inexpensive and non-invasive. Oral cancer only occurs in a particular area of the body making it easy to screening to detect its development in the early stages.
The foundation has established that front of the mouth oral cancers are generally related to the use of tobacco, heavy consumption of alcohol or a genetic predisposition in some cases. These instances often produce visible precancerous tissue changes visible to the naked eye. Cancer, related to tobacco occurs in the rear of the mouth but incidences of oral cancer caused by HPV16 virus are more frequently being identified.
The Goal of the AAOMS
The AAOMS that founded the National facial protection month in April also aims to promote the use of protective gear like mouth guards and helmets to prevent dental and facial injuries resulting from sports and recreational activities. The campaign aims to educate the public about how to avoid injuries by:
- Wearing a mouthguard during all contact and collision sports.
- Using a helmet when biking, playing football, basketball, softball, lacrosse, or hockey.
- Spectators of sporting events are also recommended advise and asked to avoid foul baseballs and flying hockey pucks.
This body is also encouraging professionals in the dental specialty to observe the oral cancer awareness month by providing oral cancer screening to their patients and the general public to detect the early signs of mouth cancer. Encouragement is also being provided to the general public to conduct self-exams every month and look for suspicious sores or a bump on the roof of the mouth.
How Can Oral Cancer Screenings Be Conducted
The dentist in Chicago, IL, is using different technologies for dental screening and visual screening of oral cancer. The most common technology being used is the blue light which helps to distinguish some changes in the tissue that will not be different from the surrounding tissue for the dentist. Any changes observed are not a sign that the patient is affected by cancer because the vast majority of the discoveries with changes in the tissue are benign. The light has not been designed specifically for locating cancer but is a little tool in the armory of the dentist. It must be noted that cancers of HPV origin start deep within the tissues where the light cannot reach.
Any tumors discovered in the early stages can be tiny and often fewer than 5 MM in size to compound the difficulty of discovery. Tests are presently available using saliva or cells rinsed from the mouth and sent to the laboratory to look for molecular markers that may indicate malignancy.
What Can People Expect from Oral Cancer Screening?
Average individuals will not understand what the doctor is looking at or thinking as their mouths are being examined. The average individual may be confused about whether the dentist will recognize any signs of oral cancer, are they using all the tools available to them when examining their mouths, and many other but may still be the dark about the examination and why it is being conducted.
Many professionals believe that an examination for oral cancer is not required because it cannot save lives. At the same time, another group believes that oral cancer screenings must be conducted regularly to identify any problems in the mouth. It is, however, a known fact that the screenings will help to treat incidences of oral cancer successfully if detected in the earliest stages which is the primary aim of the AAOMS and the ADA which is again promoting the campaign to encourage people and dental professionals to participate in the same wholeheartedly and contribute in every way possible to make the awareness program a resounding success. They are even providing resources such as posters, downloadable social media images, videos, and infographics on the website of the AAOMS. One hopes that people will take advantage of the campaign and get themselves screened for oral cancer during April by scheduling an appointment with the dentist in Chicago, IL.