Posts for tag: Oral Cancer

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
April 08, 2019
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Oral Cancer  

This month marks the 20th annual observance of Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Last year, over 50,000 people in the US were diagnosed with oral cancer, and over 10,000 people died from the disease. The 5-year survival rate for oral cancer is only around 57%, making it more deadly than many other types of cancer. But if oral cancer is caught and treated early, the 5-year survival rate jumps to over 80%. This is one reason why regular dental checkups are so important—we can be your best ally in detecting oral cancer in its early stages.

Oral cancer is particularly dangerous because it often develops without pain or obvious symptoms. Early detection greatly improves the chances of successful treatment, but signs of the disease frequently go unnoticed until the cancer is advanced. Fortunately, dentists and dental hygienists are trained to recognize signs of oral cancer in the early stages, when it is most treatable. Oral cancer can appear on any surface of the mouth and throat, with the tongue being the most common site, particularly along the sides, followed by the floor of the mouth. As part of a regular dental exam, we examine these surfaces for even subtle signs of the disease.

Screenings performed at the dental office are the best way to detect oral cancer, but between dental visits it's a good idea to check your own mouth for any of the following: white or red patches, lumps, hard spots, spots that bleed easily or sores that don't heal. Let us know if any of these symptoms don't go away on their own within two or three weeks.

Using tobacco in any form is a major risk factor for oral cancer, especially in combination with alcohol consumption. Although the majority of people diagnosed with oral cancer are over age 55, the fastest growing segment of new diagnoses are among young people due to the rise in cases of sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) in young adults.

A routine dental visit can do much more than preventing and treating tooth decay and gum disease—it might even save your life! If you have questions about oral cancer or are concerned about possible symptoms, call us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
October 10, 2018
Category: Oral Health

Fans of the legendary rock band Steely Dan received some sad news a few months ago: Co-founder Walter Becker died unexpectedly at the age of 67. The cause of his death was an aggressive form of esophageal cancer. This disease, which is related to oral cancer, may not get as much attention as some others. Yet Becker's name is the latest addition to the list of well-known people whose lives it has cut short—including actor Humphrey Bogart, writer Christopher Hitchens, and TV personality Richard Dawson.

As its name implies, esophageal cancer affects the esophagus: the long, hollow tube that joins the throat to the stomach. Solid and liquid foods taken into the mouth pass through this tube on their way through the digestive system. Worldwide, it is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths.

Like oral cancer, esophageal cancer generally does not produce obvious symptoms in its early stages. As a result, by the time these diseases are discovered, both types of cancer are most often in their later stages, and often prove difficult to treat successfully. Another similarity is that dentists can play an important role in oral and esophageal cancer detection.

Many people see dentists more often than any other health care professionals—at recommended twice-yearly checkups, for example. During routine examinations, we check the mouth, tongue, neck and throat for possible signs of oral cancer. These may include lumps, swellings, discolorations, and other abnormalities—which, fortunately, are most often harmless. Other symptoms, including persistent coughing or hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and unexplained weight loss, are common to both oral and esophageal cancer. Chest pain, worsening heartburn or indigestion and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also alert us to the possibility of esophageal cancer.

Cancer may be a scary subject—but early detection and treatment can offer many people the best possible outcome.┬áIf you have questions about oral or esophageal cancer, call our office or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”

By Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates
June 27, 2017
Category: Oral Care

Finding a strange, new lump in your mouth can be scary. Let us help you get the answers you need.bump in mouth

You just ran your tongue over a bump in your mouth that you know wasn’t there just a couple of days ago. Now you can’t seem to think about anything else. What is it and is this issue serious? Find out the common causes of oral bumps and when to visit one of our Kensington and Gaithersburg, MD, dentists, Drs. Kenneth and Edmond Woo or Dr. Ho Kai Wang, for a diagnosis.

So, there could be a few things going on, which is why it’s a great idea to visit us to get a better idea. Here are some issues that could be the culprit behind that awkward lump or bump in your mouth:

Canker Sores

If you notice a few blisters in your mouth that are also sore or painful, then you could be dealing with canker sores. They can develop anywhere in the soft tissues of your mouth, from your gums and cheeks to your tongue. Most of them will go away on their own in a couple of weeks; however, if you have serious discomfort or if you develop canker sores often then it’s time to talk to our Kensington and Gaithersburg general dentists.

Mucous Cyst

This cyst, which is the result of blocked salivary glands, can develop anywhere in the mouth but is most commonly found on the lips. These cysts aren’t painful and, like canker sores, they will go away on their own. Why do these cysts forms? They are most often caused by repeatedly biting the lips or cheek.

An Abscess

If there is an injury or open wound in the gums or soft tissue of your mouth this easily allows bacteria to enter, which can lead to an infection. As a result, a pus-filled pocket forms on the gums. An abscess on the gums could also mean that you have an infection between your teeth and gums, which is more common in those with serious gum disease.

Oral Cancer

In rare instances, that abnormal new growth could be a sign of oral cancer. If the growth doesn’t go away in a couple weeks, if the growth gets worse, if the sore begins to bleed, if you notice a persistent sore throat or you also have trouble swallowing or chewing then it’s time to get yourself to the dentist right away for an evaluation.

Kenneth Woo, DDS and Associates in Kensington and Gaithersburg, MD, is here for all of your dental needs, whether an emergency arises or you just need to schedule your next cleaning. Get the dental care you deserve for a healthy smile.