Dentists Are Often the First to Find Possible Signs of Oral Cancer in Patients

ORANGE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dental checkups are critical for healthy and long-lasting teeth, but
they can also help with the detection of serious and even
life-threatening forms of oral cancer.

Dentists are often the first to identify growths or suspicious-looking
areas in the mouth of patients that could be the first sign of oral
cancer – including oral cavity cancer, such as in the lips or tongue,
and oropharyngeal cancer, more commonly referred to as throat cancer.

And early detection and treatment as soon as possible are important for
defeating oral cancer, which can also occur in the cheeks, lips, gums,
tongue, and floor and roof of the mouth.

“Although oral cancer is rare, it’s something a dentist should be
looking for,” said Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer of Western
Dental. Dr. Luther knows firsthand how a routine dental examination can
uncover a more serious issue: he diagnosed his own lip cancer and was
successfully treated. “You need to have your dentist do this routinely
to check for lesions, lumps and bumps.”

Dr. Luther discussed the importance of early detection on NBC’s Today
on May 16 during an interview
with professional tennis player Nicole Gibbs.

A dentist recently discovered a growth on Gibbs’ mouth during a routine
checkup. Gibbs, 26, was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer – a very
rare form of cancer that affects about 1 of every 100,000 people,
according to the American Cancer Society.

Gibbs, who advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open in 2014 and the
Australian Open in 2017, will have surgery Friday and miss the French
Open that starts May 26. But Gibbs plans to participate in the
qualifying matches for Wimbledon in late June.

Gibbs is the latest well-known athlete or entertainer to be diagnosed
with oral cancer. Many celebrities, including actor-producer Michael
Douglas and guitarist Eddie Van Halen, have battled and defeated oral
cancer, thanks to early diagnosis and treatment.

Currently, an estimated 91,000 people in the U.S. are living with oral
cancer, and about 39,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, according
to the National Institute of Health. About 8,000 deaths are connected to
oral cancer every year in the U.S.

Many of those deaths could be prevented with early diagnosis, according
to many reports. The five-year survival rate for oral cancer diagnosed
early is 75 percent, but the rate drops dramatically to 20 percent with
a late diagnosis, according to the NIH.

“The routine checkup can be much more than just routine,” said Dr.
Luther. “As I know, it can help save your life.”


Western Dental (with its affiliates, including Brident Dental &
Orthodontics, Access Dental, Blue Hills Dental, South Texas Dental and
Vital Smiles) is one of the nation’s largest dental providers and is the
leader in accessible, affordable oral healthcare, serving approximately
3.0 million patient visits annually in 318 affiliated offices throughout
California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Alabama. In addition to general
dentistry, Western Dental offers orthodontics, oral surgery, pediatric
dentistry, periodontics and endodontics in its offices, creating a
convenient full service “Dental Home.”

In California, Western Dental is the leading provider of services to
both adults and children in the Denti-Cal program – part of the Medi-Cal
public insurance program that provides health care benefits for more
than 13 million low-income individuals and families. Western Dental
dentists provided care to more than a half-million Denti-Cal
beneficiaries in 2017 and is committed to continuing to partner with the
State to improve the program. In Texas, Western Dental is the leading
provider of Medicaid services and recently entered into a
first-of-its-kind agreement to participate in a value-based care and
payment model under the state’s Medicaid program.

All of Western Dental’s services are backed by a unique quality
assurance system that electronically monitors all patient visits,
treatments, dental staff and clinical performance to enable high-quality
care. To learn more about Western Dental or inquire about an office in
your community, visit
or call 1-800-6-DENTAL.


Bill Halldin
Office: 916-781-0657