What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “cancer”?

For many people, they think “pink”, because of the high-visibility breast cancer awareness campaign. However, cancer can affect any part of the body. While it doesn’t get the same amount of press, oral cancer can be just as deadly.

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately 100 individuals will be newly-diagnosed with oral cancer each day in the United States alone. When detected early, persons diagnosed with oral cancer have an 80%-90% survival rate. But right now, most cases are not detected until the cancer is in its late stages; current statistics show that of those diagnosed late, only 50% survive after five years.

Oral cancer can occur in any part of the mouth: the lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, tonsils, salivary glands, and the roof and floor of the mouth. Most people are not aware of the symptoms involved. Pay attention if any of the following signs appear, and contact a dentist as soon as possible:

  •  Neck pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Pain when swallowing / the feeling that something is stuck in your throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Persistent mouth ulcers
  • Red or white patches on the tongue or lining of the mouth
  • Persistent swelling in the mouth (over three weeks)
  • Thickening of skin around the mouth
  • A sore throat that won’t go away
  • Loose feeling teeth

Prevention and early detection are keys to surviving oral cancer. Lifestyle choices do play a big role in prevention. Cut your risk for mouth cancer by avoiding tobacco of all kinds, heavy drinking, extended sun exposure, and a diet that consists of a lot of red meat, processed meat, and fried foods. The American Cancer Society reports that men suffer from oral cancer at almost twice the rate as women because of the tendency to use tobacco and drink alcohol over long periods of time.

Don’t ignore signs of oral cancer—early detection might save your life. Here at A Beautiful Smile at Lake Pointe, every visit to your dentist includes an oral cancer screening. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment.