WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - It's the cancer no one talks about, or even few people know about. Oral cancer, or cancer of the mouth and neck region, is a fairly common condition that is treatable, but often ignored.
At Noble Hospital in Westfield on Friday morning, Dr. Matthew Halluch of Baystate Dental tested two dozen people for oral cancer.
Some people are surprised by the oral cancer exam, Halluch says, providing an example why.
"Sometimes when the dentist is feeling around with your jaw, the external tissues and asking to stick your tongue out, 'Doc what are you doing?."
42,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. People who drink, smoke, or have the sexually-transmitted disease HPV-16 are the ones most at-risk for this kind of cancer. Tell-tale signs you might have oral cancer include Sores in your mouth that don't heal within two weeks, or a hoarseness that won't go away.
Survival rates for oral cancer are high, but many people still dying from it because they don't know enough about the condition, and they are not getting tested for it.