Posted January 7, 2016
Cancer can be a scary subject, but fortunately, many are highly survivable when detected in the early stages, including oral cavity cancer. Mouth cancer used to be more common among men, and over forty. Women are now also more at risk, and at younger ages. Would it surprise you to learn that most oral cancers are diagnosed by your dentist? Yet another reason to keep those scheduled dental cleanings and checkups!
Oral cancer can be caused by risky habits, which means you can work to prevent it. The biggest risk factor seems to be using tobacco, whether by smoking or chewing or dipping snuff. Drinking alcohol heavily also puts you at risk. HPV, the human papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted disease which causes oral cancer as well. Lip cancer is often a result of excessive sun exposure. A poor diet and poor dental hygiene can also be risk factors. Treating oral cancer is usually done with surgery, along with radiation and sometimes chemotherapy to eradicate it. Caught early enough, radiation may be the only treatment needed.
Our office specializes in cancer screening of the mouth, and following are some of the signs our doctor looks for during a screening:
— A lump or thickened area in the cheek
— Numbness of the tongue or somewhere else in the mouth
— Swelling in the jaw that makes your dentures hurt or no longer fit well
— Pain in your mouth that lingers
— Loosening of teeth
— Ear pain
— Pain in the teeth or jaw
— Changes in your voice
— A lump in the neck
— Losing weight for no apparent reason
— Bad breath that never improves
— A white or red patch on the gums, tonsils, lining of the mouth or tongue
— A sore throat or feeling that something is in the throat
— Having a hard time swallowing or chewing
— A mouth sore that doesn’t go away
— Having a hard time moving your jaw or tongue
— Unusual bleeding in the mouth
Fortunately, you can do some things to keep oral cancer at bay. You can look into a tobacco cessation program to help you stop smoking. For drinkers, you can gradually reduce your alcohol consumption. Keep your lips covered in sun block and avoid sunburns. Talk to your doctor about getting the HPV vaccinations. Maintain a healthy diet from the recommended food groups, and be sure to brush and floss daily. Speak to your dentist about checking for oral cancer when you go for your checkups and cleanings.
Our doctors are here to help you be your healthiest. If you have any questions or concerns, please call our office today at 408-245-7500!