Incidents of oral cancer are on the rise locally - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Incidents of oral cancer are on the rise locally

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Dentist Dr. Michael Patterson says studies are showing the incidents of oral cancer is increasing. "We have been seeing cases here and overall nationally the trend is on the rise."

Major league baseball star, Tony Gwynn, lost his battle with salivary gland cancer Monday.  His death is shedding a big spotlight on a deadly disease, that experts say is on the rise..

"It's a fast moving cancer, that's why detecting it early on is so important early on in the process."

The American Cancer Society estimates 37,000 men and women across the country will need to receive treatment for oral cancer, this year alone.

"It's the most common skin cancer that we see in the oral cavity because there are many salivary glands and tumors."

Because they either smoked or chew tobacco, just like the 54-year-old Hall of Famer did throughout his entire career.

"The first symptom is an ulcer that doesn't heal. Any discoloration in the mouth if you see white or red spots those are other signs of abnormal tissue."

 Chattanooga based dentist, Dr. Michael Patterson reminds his patients about the harmful side-effects connected to the tobacco products they put in their mouth.

"It changes the texture of the tissue, the color of the gum tissue, it makes it look dry, wrinkled and it leads to bone loss around the teeth."

Oral cancer is responsible for killing at least one person every hour, every day, throughout the U. S.  And if it's not detected early on, the odds of surviving aren't good.  Only 6 out of 10 people survive if it's detected later on.

"The important thing about oral cancer is the stage in which it is detected, the earlier the better the prognosis."

There is a 24 hour American Cancer Society hotline.  The number is 800-227-2345, they also have more info at
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