What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
About 50,000 people in the U.S. get oral cancer each year, with 70% of them being men. Oral cancer includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat. It can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.
When it is caught early, oral cancer is much easier for doctors to treat. Yet most people get a diagnosis when their condition is too advanced to treat effectively. If you see your dentist regularly and learn how to spot suspicious changes, you’ll have a much better shot at an early diagnosis.
The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Swellings/thickenings, lumps or bumps, rough spots/crusts/or eroded areas on the lips, gums, cheek, or other areas inside the mouth
- Velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
- Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks;
- A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
- Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice
- Ear pain
- Swelling or pain in your jaw. If you wear dentures, they might be uncomfortable or hard to put in.
- A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
- Dramatic weight loss
If you notice any of these changes, contact your dentist or health care professional immediately.
How Is Oral Cancer Diagnosed?
As part of your routine dental exam, your dentist will conduct an oral cancer screening exam. Your dentist knows what a healthy mouth should look like and probably has the best chance of spotting any cancer. Experts recommend getting checked every year starting at age 18.
Specifically, your dentist will feel for any lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, face, and oral cavity. When examining your mouth, your dentist will look for any sores or discolored tissue as well as check for any signs and symptoms mentioned above.
One way to prevent oral cancer is to see your dentist on a regular schedule. Sometimes dangerous spots or sores in the mouth can be very tiny and difficult to see on your own. The American Cancer Society recommends oral cancer screening exams every 3 years for persons over age 20 and annually for those over age 40. During your next dental appointment, ask your dentist to perform an oral exam. Early detection can improve the chance of successful treatment.
Contact Impact Dental for All of Your Dental Needs
At Impact Dental Care, we provide a full range of dental services in Lorton, Stafford, and Woodbridge. We take care of most of your dental needs in-house, including dental bridges and dental implants. We have sedation certified dentist, so sleep dentistry is always an option. We are dedicated to provide excellent service, quality care, and patient convenience. Give us a call and we will give you a free 30 minutes consultation session with the dentist. Click here to learn more and to set up an appointment.