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Did you know that April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month? Oral cancer is a serious disease found in nearly 50,000 new people every year. Unfortunately, only just more than half of those people will be alive five years from now. Oral cancer is so deadly not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but because it is discovered too late. Early detection can save your life.

Part of what makes oral cancer so dangerous is that symptoms can go unnoticed for a long time. Some signs are noticeable, though, and include persistent sores in the mouth, neck, or face, unexplained bleeding in the mouth, or persistent sore throat. Other symptoms include loss of feeling, lumps or bumps in the mouth, red or white spots on the gums or lips, and difficulty chewing and swallowing. You should get screened regardless of whether or not you have symptoms, though.

Traditional oral cancer screening is typically done by feeling mouth tissue with the hand and checking by eye. While this method is quite effective, it can miss premalignant and malignant lesions too small to see or feel. At Dental Associates of Manchester, we use the Sapphire screening system to give you the most comprehensive examination possible.

The Sapphire system uses a powerful, focused blue light to examine the oral cavity. The light causes certain tissues to behave differently, enabling Drs. Timothy Collier to identify abnormalities hidden to the naked eye. The process is safe and painless, and more effective than traditional screenings.

If you would like to learn more about oral cancer and Oral Cancer Awareness Month, visit the Oral Cancer Foundation at www.oralcancer.org. For questions about any aspect of your oral health or to schedule your own screening, call our Manchester, IA, office today.