Oral Cancer Awareness Week

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Dentist Dr. Christine Tenaglia of Okemos says the easiest way to detect oral cancer is through a simple procedure called a brush biopsy.

"If you don't it can go to your lymph nodes. You could have part of your tongue sectioned off, maybe part of your jaw. So the earlier the detection the better."

According to the brush's manufacturer, OralCDx, about a quarter of a million biopsies have been performed since its FDA approval in 2000. But unfortunately for Beverly Dillon of Grand Blanc the approval came a couple of years too late.

"I first experienced a pain on my tongue when I brushed my teeth. And for a couple of months I bought different toothpaste but that didn't change."

Beverly was diagnosed with oral cancer in 1999. But she began experiencing discomfort two years earlier. The late diagnosis resulted in her losing half of her tongue as well as 30 lymph nodes.

"I bite my cheek and tongue. I don't have feeling on this side so when food drops I have to try to retrieve it."

She says she's lucky to be alive. And she hopes others are aware of the disease so they can detect it early.

Though some people experience pain, symptoms can also be painless. The most common sign of oral cancer is white or red lesions inside of your mouth.