Everyone has experienced bad breath at one time or another. Sometimes, we’ve very aware of…
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. While oral cancer isn’t a topic that most people like to hear about, it is a grim reality for the 54,000 people in the US who are diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer each year. It is a particularly devastating and cruel form of cancer, one with an unusually high mortality rate due to the fact that it is frequently not discovered early enough. Those who do survive oral cancer are often faced with lifelong difficulties relating to speaking or eating, as well as the possibility of serious facial disfigurements. For all these reasons, your Overland Park dentist wants to help you to recognize the warning signs of oral cancer and know what to do if you are experiencing any of them.
First, the good news: Oral cancer can be discovered, diagnosed, and treated in its early stages, which leads to greatly improved outcomes. When detected early, oral cancer has an 80% survivability rate. Your biannual dental cleaning and checkup is your first line of defense against oral cancer, so it’s important to see your Overland Park dentist regularly and let us know if you experience any of the signs or symptoms of oral cancer listed below.
Signs and symptoms of oral cancer may include (but are not limited to):
- A growth or lump inside your mouth.
- Bleeding in the mouth.
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing.
- Ear pain.
- Lip or mouth sores, bumps, or rough spots.
- Loose teeth.
- Mouth pain.
- Unexpected weight loss.
- White or reddish patches on the inside of your mouth.
Risk factors: While smoking and tobacco use (including smokeless and chewing tobacco, as well as vaping) are among the largest risk factors for oral cancer, other risk factors are on the rise. Recent years have seen an increase in oral cancers related to human papillomavirus (HPV), often in individuals who do not experience other risks. Lip cancer, meanwhile, can be directly linked to unprotected exposure to sunlight, just like other forms of skin cancer.
What else you should know: Oral cancers can occur at almost any age, and the number of younger individuals experiencing these cancers has grown in recent years. These cancers are more common in men than in women, but anyone may be at risk for oral cancer and should see their Overland Park dentist if they experience any warning signs.
When you get right down to it, catching oral cancer early saves lives. While the mortality rate for oral cancer is high, oral cancer that is detected early enough has an 80% survival rate, and those diagnosed early see greatly improved outcomes overall. The best way to catch oral cancer early is to make regular appointments to see your Overland Park dentist and let us know if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above or if you have any other concerns.
To make your appointment or to ask any questions you might have for your Overland Park dentist, call Watts Family Dental at (913) 338-3384 today!