December 21, 2007, Newsletter Issue #94: Oral Cancer

Tip of the Week

Cancer is one of the most feared diseases on the planet and oral cancer is among the most deadly, killing more than half of all victims within 5 years. In fact, one person dies every hour in the US from oral cancer. Even those that survive are often severely disfigured, missing large parts of their jaw, tongue, and throat.

If you smoke, drink, or use chewing tobacco, then you are in the highest risk group for getting oral cancer. Moreover, drinking and smoking at the same time greatly increases the risk.

The key to surviving oral cancer, as with most cancers, is early detection. If you have sores or lesions in your mouth that stick around for a long time or have a constant lumpy feeling in your mouth, tongue, or throat when chewing or swallowing then you should see a specialist, such as a dentist, immediately.

Oral cancer can even be detected before these symptoms occur, but unfortunately most early signs are painless and can only be detected by a dentist. If you are in the high risk group, and in particular if you are over 40 as 95% of oral cancers occur in those over 40, then it is extremely important that you see a dentist for a cleaning, at least once every 6 months, so they can assess the overall health of your teeth and mouth.

If you can't see a dentist every 6 months because you don't have and cannot afford the high monthly premiums of traditional dental insurance, then you should enroll in a discount dental plan. Discount dental plans typically cost around $100 annually and include 2 free (or very cheap) routine cleanings, which will allow you to detect cancer early, as well as get your teeth cleaned.

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