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April has been designated as Oral Cancer Awareness Month by the Oral Cancer Foundation in an effort to bring attention to a serious and deadly disease. Nearly 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, and nearly 10,000 die. What can we do together to control oral cancer?

One of the main reasons oral cancer is so deadly is because it often goes undetected in patients for far too long. If it is caught early it is much more treatable. But it goes undetected because it can develop for a long time without causing symptoms. In fact, one of the most common ways it is discovered is when is has metastasized to another location, such as the lymph nodes. Sadly, at this point prognosis is much worse.

Knowing how important early detection is, at Barton Oaks Dental Group, we provide oral cancer screenings with every routine appointment. We carefully inspect the oral cavity and other areas to check for abnormalities. If suspicious tissue is found, we take a brush biopsy for further analysis. Of course, not every abnormality is cancerous, but it is better to be safe since early diagnosis is crucial.

You should also contact our Austin, TX, office if you develop symptoms of oral cancer, which include persistent soreness, unexplained bleeding, lasting sores in and around the mouth, lumps, bumps, red and white patches and loss of feeling. To learn more about oral cancer including causes and treatments, visit the OCF website, www.oralcancer.org.