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Your Healthy Family: Oral cancer awareness and free screenings - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Your Healthy Family: Oral cancer awareness and free screenings

Dr. Fred Guerra in Colorado Springs says his office screens every patient they see for oral cancer. Dr. Fred Guerra in Colorado Springs says his office screens every patient they see for oral cancer.
COLORADO SPRINGS -

April is oral cancer awareness month.  Dr. Fred Guerra in Colorado Springs says his office screens every patient they see for oral cancer.  In the United States about 50,000 people a year are diagnosed with oral cancer, and half of those people will die within 5 years.

Dr. Guerra points out that oral cancer doesn't just strike people who smoke or drink.  “Everyone is aware of alcohol or tobacco those are two primary causes of oral cancer.  The reason we screen 100% of our patients for oral cancer is that about a third of all people who get oral cancer don’t have any of those risk factors.  They are non-smokers and non-drinkers but there's also age and genetics and maybe someone's immune system that can factor in.  So there's a host of factors and that’s the reason we screen everybody."

If an oral cancer screening isn't something that's happening when you see your dentist, Dr. Guerra says you should ask about it.

"I think there's a fair amount of hygienists that are actually looking in the mouth and looking for signs and symptoms of oral cancer.  They may not be specifically telling the patient what they're looking for.  I think it's a great value to let the patient know that ‘the first thing I'm going to be doing is screening for oral cancer in your mouth’, that way the patient could say ‘oh I've had this sore of the back side of my tongue’ so we can focus on something like that.  The more the patient knows and the more a dental office staff educates them, I think the higher incidence of diagnosis there will be."

Dr. Guerra also says between check ups be on the lookout for any kind of anomalies in your mouth that don't go away or heal up on their own.

"Typically the most common sign is someone will have a sore in their mouth like a ulceration that doesn't heal.  It might be painful and the typical thought is let's give it 10 days to 2 weeks to heal, for a canker sore for example.  After that it might be worth bringing a patient back in to get a second look and monitoring them two weeks.  At that point if something is still persistent we want to get a biopsy as early as possible.  Other signs and symptoms of oral cancer might be difficulty swallowing, bad breath, loose teeth, they can have lumps or bumps and they can have white or red patches.  Those white or red patches are highly suspicious.”

Dr. Guerra says during the month of April, if anyone is interested in a free oral cancer screening just call his office, at 719-596-1230 and you can arrange a screening free of charge. Guerra Dental is located at 3208 Academy Blvd N #100, Colorado Springs, CO 80917

http://guerradental.com/

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