Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer, is a type of cancer that affects the skin and tissues of your mouth. It can occur anywhere in your mouth, including your tongue, lips, gums, and inside of your cheeks.
However, if left untreated for too long, it can spread to other parts of the body.
If you think you may have the disease or are experiencing symptoms that could be related to it, it’s important to see a doctor right away. The earlier the disease is detected and treated, the better chance you have of overcoming it.
What are the Symptoms Of Oral Cancer?
There are several symptoms to look out for, including:
- Sores in the mouth that bleed easily, don’t heal or last more than two weeks.
- Red or white patches in the mouth
- Lumps or thickening on the skin or lining of the mouth.
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing or moving your jaw or tongue.
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down.
- Numbness in your tongue, lips or other areas on your face
Risk Factors Of Oral Cancer
Several factors can contribute to the disease, including:
- Family history of cancer.
- Poor oral hygiene (little or no dental care or flossing)
- Smoking (including smokeless tobacco)
- Excessive drinking (alcohol)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
How can it be Diagnosed?
Oral cancer can be life-threatening, but it is also a highly survivable disease when diagnosed and treated early.
Diagnosis of oral cancer is often made during a routine dental exam. If a dentist sees a suspicious lesion or sore in your mouth, he may recommend that you see an oral surgeon for further evaluation.
Treatment of oral cancer may include surgery to remove cancer, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. After treatment, patients are encouraged to visit the dentist regularly for checkups.
Patients with oral cancer frequently require specialized care from an oral surgeon and periodontist in addition to their other medical specialists. Oral health professionals can help patients manage issues related to oral cancer such as dry mouth, pain management, nutritional counselling, extraction of teeth before radiation therapy and reconstruction of missing teeth after treatment is complete.
Oral cancer is a deadly disease that can lead to death.
As such, it’s important to be aware of the typical causes and symptoms of oral cancer, as well as ways you can prevent it.
Here are some ways to prevent oral cancer:
Avoid tobacco products and secondhand smoke. Tobacco products and secondhand smoke contain chemicals that can damage your DNA, which increases your risk of getting the disease. If you currently use tobacco products or are exposed to secondhand smoke, try to quit or limit your exposure.
Limit alcohol consumption. Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of developing the disease. If you do drink alcohol, try to keep it to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help lower your risk of the disease, as does being physically active for at least 30 minutes per day most days of the week.
Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays by using sunscreen on your lips and seeking shade whenever possible when outside between 10 am and 4 pm.
This month of April is oral cancer awareness month.
Get Screened Today!