Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers today and has one of the lowest survival rates, with thousands of new cases being reported each year. Fewer than half of all people diagnosed are fully cured.
Patients with oral cancer can develop complications—some of them chronic and painful—from their cancer treatment. These include dry mouth and overly sensitive teeth, as well as accelerated tooth decay.
Oral cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth, but the tongue is the most common location. Other oral structures could include the lips, gums, and other soft palate tissues in the mouth.
What are the warning signs of oral cancer?
If oral cancer is not treated in time, it could spread to other facial and neck tissues, leading to disfigurement and pain. Adults over the age of 40, especially men, are most susceptible to oral cancer, but people of all ages are at risk.
In general, early signs of oral cancer usually occur in the form of lumps, patchy areas, and lesions, or breaks, in the tissues of the mouth. In many cases, these abnormalities are not painful in the early stages, making self-diagnosis difficult.
Additional warning signs include:
- Hoarseness or difficulty swallowing.
- Unusual bleeding or persistent sores in the mouth that won’t heal.
- Lumps or growths in other nearby areas, such as the throat or neck.
If you are experiencing any of these signs, please contact us immediately. We can help you determine whether your symptoms are signs of oral cancer or some other oral condition.
How can I prevent oral cancer?
Prevention is the key. The most common causes of oral cancer are tobacco and alcohol use. Certain kinds of foods and overexposure to the sun have also been linked. Some experts believe certain oral cancer risk factors are also hereditary.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the best defenses. Maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups are also highly recommended.
We offer oral cancer screenings at Tabor Dental Associates. Get one at your next regular dental checkup.
Oral Cancer Screening
There are two known pathways leading to oral cancer. The first is tobacco and alcohol use. The other is through exposure to HPV16 (human papillomavirus).
When oral cancer is detected early, survival rates are good, currently sitting at 80–90%. Unfortunately, most oral cancers are not detected until later stages, which is why the death rate for oral cancer is high in the US. Currently, the survival rate for cancers detected at later stages is 45% within five years of diagnosis.
Oral cancer kills one person every hour of every day; this is why we believe oral cancer screening is vital to helping maintain your oral and overall health.
Am I at risk for oral cancer?
In the past, oral cancer was believed to be associated mostly with tobacco use. This is no longer the case. In fact, in patients younger than 50 years old, HPV16 is now believed to be the main causative agent.
Because the risk factors now include tobacco, alcohol, and exposure to HPV16, nearly every adult in the US is at risk for developing oral cancer. Like any cancer, it is only through early detection that your chances for survival can improve.
Is it time for your oral cancer screening?
Make an appointment with your Hendersonville dentist practice, Tabor Dental Associates. We enjoy getting to know each patient while preventing common problems and diseases like oral cancer.