April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

oral cancer awareness ribbonDid You Know?  Babe Ruth, Humphrey Bogart, and now, in recent years, Michael Douglas and former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly have all been victims of oral cancer.

During Babe Ruth and Humphrey Bogart’s generation, oral cancer was mainly linked to smoking and heavy alcohol use.  Today, tobacco use is still a major risk factor, but the fastest growing population of oral cancer patients are young, healthy, non-smoking individuals.  This is largely attributed to the connection between oral cancer and HPV.
Oral Cancer & HPV

HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most common form of sexually transmitted disease today.  HPV16 is the type that is typically linked to oral cancer, as well as cervical cancer.  HPV does not always lead to cancer, “according to the CDC, 80% of Americans will have some form of HPV infection during their lifetime and 99% will clear these infections without consequence”.  

Oral Cancer Screening

The key to early detection of oral cancer is to be aware of the symptoms of oral cancer and regular screening.  We provide our patients with an oral cancer screening examination at each regular checkup visit.  During this screening, Dr. Durden or Dr. Mitchell will carefully examine the tongue, cheeks, roof of the mouth and oral soft tissues for any unusual changes that may require further testing.  If you notice any of the following symptoms, please call our office for an evaluation:

  • White or red spots or lesions in the mouth that persist for more than 2 weeks
  • A lump or thickening in the oral soft tissues
  • Chronic sore throat, hoarseness or feeling as if something is caught in the throat
  • Numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth
  • Jaw swelling that makes dentures uncomfortable

In the U.S., 1 person dies from Oral Cancer every hour.  If detected early, oral cancer can be treated.  The challenge with this deadly disease is the symptoms are not always noticeable until they have greatly progressed.

Join the Fight Against Oral Cancer
Our Athens area dental practice is dedicated to raising awareness about oral cancer screenings and the importance of early detection.  Contact Us to learn more about this silent killer.

Michael Douglas speaks out on Oral Cancer


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