Chances are that you know someone that has been affected by cancer. It’s one of the most common diseases that families have to deal with and it can be a serious and grave matter. Know the signs and symptoms of oral cancer to help reduce your risk.
“Oral cancer” is an umbrella term that includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, hard and soft palates, floor of the mouth, sinuses and throat. It’s often painless in the early stages and therefore dangerous, as physical changes may not happen until later in the progression of the disease.
Men run twice the risk of developing oral cancer as women, and men over the age of 50 face the greatest risk of all. Smokers are at a six times higher risk than nonsmokers, and users of chewing tobacco are at 50 times the risk in some cases. Those who consume excess amounts of alcohol, with a family history of cancers, and who have certain strains of HPV all face an increased risk of contracting an oral cancer.
Some dentists, like ours, screen for signs of oral cancer during regular exams, but there are many signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for at home, especially if you have increased risk factors.
Schedule an appointment if you notice any of the following that does not subside after two weeks:
- Rough or crusty spots, lumps, swelling and lesions in the mouth or lips
- Bleeding, numbness or pain in any area of your face, neck or mouth
- Sores that bleed easily in the mouth, face or neck
- Throat issues, such as persistent sore throat, a feeling that something is caught in your throat and cannot be dislodged, or difficulty chewing/swallowing