Local periodontists shed light on Oral Cancer Awareness Month

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – One person every hour of every day of the year dies from Oral and Oropharyngeal cancer, otherwise known as cancer of the mouth and upper throat, according to the American Academy of Oral Medicine.

Preston Alfred, Summers and Johnson Periodontal Partnership Periodontist says that oral cancer may not always be seen or felt.

“Oral cancer generally doesn’t have many symptoms. It can just present as maybe a bump of a spot in the mouth or lips so that is an important part of it, that you’re not always going to feel or necessarily be affected by it,” Alfred told WITN.

That’s why Alfred says it’s import to to always be proactive when noticing any differences in appearance. “It’s often encouraged that if you just have any sort of spot or notice any sort of irregularity to have a dental professional check it out.”

If not, oral cancer could escalate if not taken care of sooner rather than later.

Alfred says, “Oral cancer can become malignant and spread throughout the body. Commonly, it’s going to spread throughout the body over a 10-12 month cycle, but aggressive forms could metastasize as soon as three months. Recovery from oral cancer itself could be significantly different depending on when and how early it’s caught.”

The effects of oral cancer can be seen in the East due to coastal lifestyles during warmer months which is why Alfred encourages people to take the necessary precautions.

“Eastern North Carolina has a need. One risk factor for oral cancer is a lot of sun exposure so in Eastern North Carolina being at the beach and stuff like that, it is important to get any spots you might notice checked out. Common prevention is avoiding tobacco products, minimizing alcohol consumption, and using appropriate sunscreen and stuff like that when we are going to be out in the sun,” said Alfred.

The American Academy of Oral Medicine reports that the death rate for oral cancer is particularly high due to late detection in their development.

To avoid a prolonged or late diagnosis, experts say routine dental visits and cleaning are vital.

This is the 15th annual Oral Cancer Awareness Month, according to the American Academy of Oral Medicine.