It should be a frequent ritual for individuals over the age of 40 to check for oral cancer. Every year over 35,000 new cases of oral cancer are identified in the U.S., and 1 in 4 individuals do not survive the diagnosis. Catching cancer early is important, because early treatment increases your chances of survival. For this reason, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer as soon as they appear.
Warning Signs of Oral Cancer
There are many red flags that signal oral cancer. If any of these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, it is important to get screened immediately.
- Sore, swollen lumps or patches on your lips, inside your mouth, or throat
- Red or white lesions in your mouth or on your lips
- Any numbness, pain, or swelling in and around your mouth and throat
- A sore throat or the persistent feeling of a lump in your throat
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your mouth, tongue, or jaw
- Unexplained loose teeth
If you have experienced any of these warning signs of mouth cancer, you should seek immediate medical attention.
How to Check for Oral Cancer
Fortunately, checking for oral cancer is much easier than checking for many other types of cancer, primarily due to location. Make it a weekly habit to look in and around your mouth for any irregularities, and monitor the ones you do find. Remember to check all parts of the mouth, inside of cheeks, under the tongue, gums, back of the throat and roof of your mouth.
It may help to invest in a small flashlight and dental mirror. This small device is inexpensive and can be found at your local drugstore. Better yet, it can be used to help you get a better view of the inside of your mouth and catch any irregularities early on.
Who’s at Risk for Oral Cancer
Just like any form of cancer, everybody is at risk. But, the following things have shown to increase the risk of being diagnosed with mouth cancer:
- Tobacco use, in fact, 90% of those diagnosed with oral cancer use tobacco
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Frequent sun exposure
Oral Cancer Screenings and Treatment
Your dentist should screen for mouth cancer every time you visit. Make sure to confirm with your dentist that you are receiving this screening, especially if you participate in high-risk activities. It is important to make sure you schedule frequent dental visits to maintain proper oral health and screen for cancer. The suggested frequency for a healthy individual is two visits per year, which increases if you need extra oral care.
If oral cancer is detected, your dentist will order a biopsy, which is a removal of the infected area. If the area is confirmed to be cancerous, radiation and chemotherapy may be needed in order to fully exterminate the cancerous cells.
A Dentist That Cares About Oral Cancer
When visiting our offices in Sugar Land, Texas, we ensure that every patient is screened for oral cancer. If you have not been screened for oral cancer, or would like to know more about the signs and symptoms of oral cancer, contact A Beautiful Smile at Lake Pointe in Sugar Land, Texas. Our experienced dentists know how to detect oral cancer early on.