Oral cancer survivor stresses early diagnosis
SELINSGROVE – An oral cancer survivor is reminding residents that April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and says early diagnosis can be the difference between life and death. Pamela Dixon of Selinsgrove was diagnosed with oral cancer when she was just 28-years-old.
Dixon said, “I had a quarter of my tongue removed and underwent radiation five days a week for two months. About nine months after I finished radiation, I woke up with a huge lump in my neck. It turned out the cancer had spread to my neck and I underwent surgery to remove that. After that, I had chemotherapy.”
Dixon says oral cancer isn’t in the news as much as other forms of cancer, but is very prevalent.
She said, “There are a lot of younger people who are now being diagnosed with oral cancer and cancer in the top part of the throat. This is due the HPV virus.”
She explained why early diagnosis is important, saying, “There are roughly 43,000 cases of oral cancer that will be diagnosed this year. Of those 43,000, eight-thousand people will die of oral cancer this year. It has roughly a 57 percent 5-year survival rate, but this could be changed greatly if people were just aware that something is wrong.”
With early diagnosis, the survival rate climbs to 85 to 90 percent. Dixon said, “If you are having a problem in your mouth or throat that is persisting, you should have it checked by a dentist, physician or oral surgeon. You should ask your dentist if they do oral cancer screenings, where they check your mouth, cheeks and neck for any problems.”
To find out more about oral cancer, you can visit the American Cancer Society’s official website at www.cancer.org. (Ali Stevens)