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Professional says a five-minute exam may be lifesaving
Updated: 4/1/2011 7:00:04 PM

Dentists can quickly examine an patient During April, which is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, California dentist Louis Amendola recommends that individuals visit their dental health providers to receive a five-minute screening that can detect any signs of the condition.

"Comprehensive dental examinations that include a screening for oral cancer will save lives," Amendola said.

During these screenings, Amendola explained that a professional will visually survey a patient's mouth for any abnormal swelling or discoloration, as well as injuries to cheeks, gums, tongue or throat. Dentists may also feel the area underneath an individual's jaw bone for any growths, he added.

While April may serve as a reminder for patients to receive their annual screenings, Amendola noted that people should seek an evaluation any time they experience cold sores or lesions on any surface within their mouths that do not heal themselves within two weeks.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, more than 36,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year and upwards of 7,000 die from the disease. Individuals who are diagnosed while the cancer is still localized have an 83 percent rate of survival, according to the organization.

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