There has been a lot in the news lately on the subject of oral cancer. It starts out many times as a growth on the tongue, cheeks, soft and hard palates, sinuses, and throat and can even be life threatening. This uncontrollable growth of cells can spread very quickly if not treated. That is why it is imperative to have regular oral cancer screenings and protect yourself from this serious condition.
There are several signs and symptoms of oral cancer you need to be aware of:
- Swelling or thickening of the tongue, lumps and bumps, swelling of the lips
- The development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
- Bleeding in the mouth that cannot be explained
- A feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
- Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks
- Ear Pain
- Dramatic weight loss
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
- A change in the way your dentures or teeth fit together when you bite down
If you have or are experiencing anyone of these signs and symptoms, you need to get checked out for oral cancer.
Who Gets Oral Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer as women, and men who are over age 50 face the greatest risk. It’s estimated that over 35,000 people in the U.S. received a diagnosis of oral cancer in 2008. Those who smoke, use smokeless tobacco, use alcohol heavily or have over exposure to the sun are at higher risk than others. It is important to note that over 25% of all oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke and who only drink alcohol occasionally.
How Is Oral Cancer Diagnosed
It is a common practice in our office to do an oral cancer screening when you come in for cleanings or checkups. More specifically, we will feel for any lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, face, and oral cavity. When examining your mouth, we will look for any sores or discolored tissue areas as well as check for any signs and symptoms mentioned above.
Early detection is the key in preventing or stopping the spread of oral cancer cells. If you have not had a screening, then be sure to mention to us in the office and we will be happy to give you a screening. If you want to come in specifically for a screening, then give our office a call and we will get you right in for your personal oral cancer screening.