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Apr 9, 2013 8:13 AM by Elizabeth Hill

Oral cancer screenings can mean difference between life and death

"You catch things early, you can win."

Dentist Dr. Samuel Moss says he's seen an alarming increase in the number of oral cancer cases coming through his office.

"My first 20 years I saw one case of oral cancer and in the last 13 years we've been aware of about 21 cases."

43% of people diagnosed with oral cancer don't survive more than five years.

"It usually never really hurts, so usually its found in later stages."

Its location makes this cancer especially deadly.

"In the mouth there are so many blood vessels and lymphatic systems that are connected that the spread is like wildfire."

Moss says since there are usually no pain symptoms, it's important to know what to look for.

"If you have a lesion in your mouth that doesn't really hurt, that's been there for more than two weeks, then that should raise a red flag."

Moss says there are risk factors for oral cancer like tobacco use, excessive drinking and unprotected exposure to the sun, but he says it can affect anyone no matter their risk factors.

Moss recommends yearly screenings for oral cancer with your dentist.

April is oral cancer awareness month and Moss' office will be offering free screenings Friday, April 19th.

The screenings will take place from 8 am to noon and you don't need to be a patient to participate.

Walk-ins are welcome, but you can also make an appointment.

You can call Dr. Moss' office at 337-232-9937.

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