All types of cancer are serious. While you may use sunscreen to protect against skin cancer or avoid smoking to lessen your chances for lung cancer, what are you doing to reduce your risk for oral cancer? Oral cancer affects approximately 200,000 people in the United States each year. The most important fact you can learn about oral cancer is that early detection is critical. It is a highly treatable disease if caught at its beginning stages. More advanced stages of oral cancer can be fatal.
Know the Symptoms
If early detection is so important, then learning the symptoms of oral cancer becomes one of the best ways you can protect yourself. Your dentist can perform an oral cancer screening at your routine dental checkup. However, it is important that you know what to watch out for yourself. If you notice any of the following oral cancer signs, see your dentist as soon as possible:
- Rough spots, lumps, crusts, or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or cheeks
- White or red patches in the mouth
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Numbness in any area of the face
- Persistent mouth sores
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Chronic sore throat or a change in voice
- Ear pain
- Dramatic weight loss
- A change in the way your dentures fit together
Know Your Risk Factor
Oral cancer is not excluded to a certain group of people. However, research has found that there are certain factors that can increase your likelihood of getting oral cancer. These include tobacco use, high alcohol consumption, family history, excessive sun exposure and HPV. In general, oral cancer tends to affect people within the age of 41 to 60 years old the most.
At Avalon Dental Group, oral cancer screening is part of your preventative dental care plan with us. Our office uses the latest technology available to ensure your screening is quick, painless and highly effective at detecting oral cancer early. If cancerous cells are found, surgical treatment and possible radiation may be necessary.