Each year more than 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer (oropharyngeal cancer). And that’s sad because oral cancers can have a fairly high rate of mortality. Most of these people are 60 or older old, but not all.
Oral cancer isn’t very aggressive, so that isn’t why it has a high mortality rate. Instead, these cancers are often a challenge to treat because they’re not evident. In many instances, oral cancer is not detected until it has reached advanced (and tougher to treat) stages.
When oral cancer is identified early, it’s normally quite treatable. Watching for early indications of oral cancer is one of the smartest things you can do.
Oral cancer – some early signals
Scheduling a hearing exam with us is the best way to get early diagnosis. We will be able to screen for possible symptoms or presentations of a variety of cancer types.
There are a few early warning signs you can keep an eye out for between visits. Here are some of the most common early signs of oral cancer:
- Patches of white or red tissues in the mouth. The white tissue is called leukoplakia and the red tissue is known as erythroplakia. Often, these patches are nothing to worry about, but they may be an early sign of possible cancer in some instances.
- Trouble moving your jaw, such as when you’re speaking or chewing.
- Tingling, numbness, or loss of sensation in the lower lip.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Tooth loss. If you have loose teeth that aren’t a result of dental or hygiene concerns (your dentist or periodontist will be able to tell whether that’s the case or not), you should see a doctor.
If you’re dealing with any of these symptoms, you should consult us right away.
What happens at an oral cancer screening?
We will take a good look inside of your mouth and pay special attention to any white or red patches. That’s because this red or white tissue can develop into lesions, and lesions can eventually become cancerous.
In most situations, a visual evaluation will be adequate. But in some circumstances, we might need to perform a biopsy to identify whether some tissue is something to worry about.
Cancer is more common when there is:
- Family history. If you have a family history of oral cancers, your risks are going to be increased.
- Tobacco use. Smoking tobacco products can greatly increase your risk of developing a wide variety of cancers, including oral cancer.
- Poor nutrition. Your risk of cancer lessens if you eat a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, based on some evidence.
- Excessive drinking. Alcohol has been associated with cancer. Your risk of cancer will be lowered if you restrict your use of alcohol, especially when in combination with tobacco.
Limit your sun exposure: Extended and prolonged exposure to the sun can raise your chances of developing lip and skin cancer.
Get routine screenings
Scheduling an appointment with us is the best way you can minimize your risk of oral cancer. You will have a better chance of catching oral cancer early and before it becomes too advanced or spreads. Your prognosis will be dramatically improved by doing this.