Hearing the word “cancer” puts fear into the hearts of most people. And for some, a visit to the dentist can be an anxiety causing experience.
• Tip: twice yearly dental exams and cleanings are vitally important in the early detection prevention and treatment of oral cancer.
According the the Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately 37,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year; just over half will be alive five years later. Oral cancer’s high death rate is primarily due to its late discovery.
• Tip: If caught early, oral cancer is highly treatable.
What is it?
Oral cancer is the growth of abnormal cells on any part of the tongue, gums, mouth or lips, as well as the lining of the cheeks and the floor and roof of the mouth.
Most oral cancers begin in the lining of the mouth or lips, which is made up of thin squamous cells.
• Tobacco use. Avoid tobacco in all forms, including cigarettes, cigars, snuff, pipes, “herbal” cigarettes, or chewing tobacco. Tobacco use accounts for 90% of all oral cancers.
• Alcohol Use. If you drink a lot of alcohol, your risk is even higher.
• Marijuana use.
• Having some types of human papillomavirus (HPV).
• Exposure to UV light from the sun or tanning beds.
What to look for:
• Persistent tenderness, pain, or numbness anywhere in your mouth or on your lips.
• A sore or irritation on your mouth or lip that bleeds easily and doesn’t heal.
• A lump or thickening in the cheek or neck.
• Red or white spotty patches on your tongue or in your mouth.
• A thick, rough spot or a small area that looks like it’s wearing away.
• Difficulty chewing, swallowing, talking or moving your tongue or jaw.
• A change in your voice that isn’t due to allergies or a cold.
• Feeling like something is caught in your throat.
• An earache that doesn’t go away.
One of the best things you can do to prevent oral cancer is to visit your dentist regularly.
Call us for a consultation today if you are experiencing any of these symptoms!