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Your Healthy Family: Do you know the warning signs of oral cancer?

Posted at 8:39 AM, Apr 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 10:47:08-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know your dentist’s office should be the first line of defense when it comes to detecting the early signs of oral cancers?

Dr. Fred Guerra, DMD with Guerra Dental in Colorado Springs explains, “Our goal is to highlight the problem with oral cancers. Around 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and about 10,000 those folks will die within 5 years because of an oral cancer.”

One of the early signs of an oral cancer could be will be something abnormal in your mouth that doesn’t go away within 10 to 14 days.

Dr. Guerra says, “Most people will have an oral lesion of some type that's benign in nature - it could be canker sore, could be an irritation, could be a pizza burn in the top of their mouth - our goal is to look at those and based on our experience to figure out how long someone might have had something in their mouth. For us the critical number of days is 14. If they've had something persisting for 14 days or more, it might be time to get in there and get a biopsy. Most things in the mouth resolve themselves 3 to 10 days, so again we're highly suspicious of things that last 14 days or more.”

The key question to ask yourself says Dr. Guerra, is has your dentist given you an oral cancer exam recently? “Only about 20% of patients recently surveyed that go to the dentist said that they are getting a comprehensive oral cancer screening by their dentist.”

Dr. Guerra points out that sometimes an oral cancer exam could be happening without it being explained to you.

In our next story Dr. Guerra will walk us through the steps of a thorough oral cancer screening.

Guerra Dental is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family