ORANGE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dental checkups are critical for healthy and long-lasting teeth, but they can also help with the detection of serious and even life-threatening forms of oral cancer.
Dentists are often the first to identify growths or suspicious-looking areas in the mouth of patients that could be the first sign of oral cancer – including oral cavity cancer, such as in the lips or tongue, and oropharyngeal cancer, more commonly referred to as throat cancer.
And early detection and treatment as soon as possible are important for defeating oral cancer, which can also occur in the cheeks, lips, gums, tongue, and floor and roof of the mouth.
“Although oral cancer is rare, it’s something a dentist should be looking for,” said Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer of Western Dental. Dr. Luther knows firsthand how a routine dental examination can uncover a more serious issue: he diagnosed his own lip cancer and was successfully treated. “You need to have your dentist do this routinely to check for lesions, lumps and bumps.”
Dr. Luther discussed the importance of early detection on NBC’s Today Show on May 16 during an interview with professional tennis player Nicole Gibbs.
A dentist recently discovered a growth on Gibbs’ mouth during a routine checkup. Gibbs, 26, was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer – a very rare form of cancer that affects about 1 of every 100,000 people, according to the American Cancer Society.
Gibbs, who advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open in 2014 and the Australian Open in 2017, will have surgery Friday and miss the French Open that starts May 26. But Gibbs plans to participate in the qualifying matches for Wimbledon in late June.
Gibbs is the latest well-known athlete or entertainer to be diagnosed with oral cancer. Many celebrities, including actor-producer Michael Douglas and guitarist Eddie Van Halen, have battled and defeated oral cancer, thanks to early diagnosis and treatment.
Currently, an estimated 91,000 people in the U.S. are living with oral cancer, and about 39,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, according to the National Institute of Health. About 8,000 deaths are connected to oral cancer every year in the U.S.
Many of those deaths could be prevented with early diagnosis, according to many reports. The five-year survival rate for oral cancer diagnosed early is 75 percent, but the rate drops dramatically to 20 percent with a late diagnosis, according to the NIH.
“The routine checkup can be much more than just routine,” said Dr. Luther. “As I know, it can help save your life.”
ABOUT WESTERN DENTAL
Western Dental (with its affiliates, including Brident Dental & Orthodontics, Access Dental, Blue Hills Dental, South Texas Dental and Vital Smiles) is one of the nation’s largest dental providers and is the leader in accessible, affordable oral healthcare, serving approximately 3.0 million patient visits annually in 318 affiliated offices throughout California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Alabama. In addition to general dentistry, Western Dental offers orthodontics, oral surgery, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and endodontics in its offices, creating a convenient full service “Dental Home.”
In California, Western Dental is the leading provider of services to both adults and children in the Denti-Cal program – part of the Medi-Cal public insurance program that provides health care benefits for more than 13 million low-income individuals and families. Western Dental dentists provided care to more than a half-million Denti-Cal beneficiaries in 2017 and is committed to continuing to partner with the State to improve the program. In Texas, Western Dental is the leading provider of Medicaid services and recently entered into a first-of-its-kind agreement to participate in a value-based care and payment model under the state’s Medicaid program.
All of Western Dental’s services are backed by a unique quality assurance system that electronically monitors all patient visits, treatments, dental staff and clinical performance to enable high-quality care. To learn more about Western Dental or inquire about an office in your community, visit www.westerndental.com or call 1-800-6-DENTAL.