April, 13, 2016 | Oral and pharyngeal cancer (cancer of the mouth and upper throat) can often be overlooked and prevention is key in catching this cancer early. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and to many people’s surprise this type of cancer kills nearly one person every hour of everyday of the year.
Usually this type of cancer is discovered late in its course and often ends in higher rates of death, facial disfigurements, and difficulty eating and speaking. Regular checkups by your primary care provider can help prevent cancers like this one.
Risk factors include smoking and tobacco use, however a major risk factor and the main cause of this cancer is the HPV virus. The fastest growing population of people getting this type of cancer are young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals. HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has the virus.
What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
Knowing the symptoms of oral cancers are essential in catching it early. Some symptoms are:
- Soreness or irritation that doesn’t go away
- Red or white patches
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking
If any of these do not disappear after 2-3 weeks then you need to see a professional immediately. It is hard to stop this virus from spreading; the way to help solve this problem is for those that need the help to seek professional assistance and also for communities to raise awareness. Seeing your primary care provider on a regular basis (twice a year) is very important and many insurance plans carry free preventive exams and tests. If you have questions about your insurance plans speak with your insurance’s customer service representatives.
There is need for early detection in order to save lives but a lot of us are not aware of this issue. Let’s spread the word.