Just like any other type of cancer, Oral Cancer, is potentially life threatening if not discovered and treated early.
Oral Cancer appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away. The growth or sore can appear on your lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat. During a routine office visit, your dentist and hygienist will scan the surfaces of your mouth for suspicious growths or sores. If found they will request to take a small surface biopsy to get a better look at the tissue.
- In 2014, 40,000 Americans were diagnosed with oral cancer
- 50% of diagnoses were men. Men over 50 are at greatest risk
- 25% of diagnoses were people who do not smoke
Increasing likelihood of developing oral cancer
- Family history of cancer.
- Smoking. Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancers.
- Smokeless tobacco users. Dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco users are 50 times more likely to develop cancers of the cheek, gums, and lining of the lips.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol. Oral cancers are about six times more common in people who drink alcohol than those who do not.
- Excessive sun exposure, especially at a young age.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV). Certain HPV. Fortunately the HPV vaccine is being offered to children currently in the US.
Warning Signs of Oral Cancer
- Swellings/thickenings, lumps or bumps, rough spots/crusts/or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth
- The development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
- Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks
- A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
- Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice
- Ear pain
- A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
- Dramatic weight loss
If you are concerned that you may have growth or sore that you feel may be cancer, call your dentist or primary care physician right away, Don’t Wait! Your life may depend on it.
Oral Cancer info obtained from WebMD.com