Cancer within itself is one of the most feared diseases. There’s no denying that it can completely wreak havoc on your entire body, including your mouth. Oral cancer is a real threat, especially in those who don’t take proper care of their health.
Cancer, by definition, is the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and damage surrounding tissue. Oral cancer includes cancers of the tongue, lip, cheeks, the floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinus, and throat. Oral cancer, like other cancers, can be life-threatening if left untreated.
At First Dental Associates, our experienced and professional team can help prevent and treat cancer-causing problems and keep you healthy. We encourage you to schedule your next checkup and teeth cleaning at our Reading, MA office. In the meantime, learn more about oral cancer and how you can protect yourself.
Signs & Symptoms Of Oral Cancer
The most common signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Lumps, bumps, rough spots, swelling, or thickening of the areas on your gums, lips, or areas inside your mouth
- White or red patches in your mouth
- Unexplained bleeding in your mouth
- Unexplained numbness or pain/tenderness anywhere on your face, mouth, or neck
- Sores on your face, mouth, or neck that bleed easily and don’t heal within two week
- Hoarseness, a sore throat, a change in your voice, or feeling like something is caught in your throat
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your tongue or jaw
- Ear pain
- A change in your bite or the way your teeth fit together
- Sudden, dramatic weight loss
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, get in touch with us or your health care professional right away.
Risk Factors For Oral Cancer
Approximately 40,000 people were diagnosed with oral cancer in 2014. According to the American Cancer Society, certain people are more at risk of developing oral cancer than others, including men. In fact, men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer as women. It’s men over the age of 50 that face the greatest risk.
Risk factors for oral cancer include:
Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer than nonsmokers.
- Smokeless tobacco
People who use dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco products are 50 times more likely to develop cheek, gums, and lip cancers.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
People who drink regularly are approximately six times more likely to develop oral cancer than those who don’t drink.
- Family history of cancer
If you have a family history of cancer, especially oral cancer, you’re at a higher risk of developing oral cancer.
- Excessive sun exposure
Spending too much time in the sun, especially at a young age, can put you at a higher risk for oral cancer. It’s important to protect your mouth from the sun as well. Remember to wear lip balms that contain SPF to protect your lips.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Certain HPV strains can lead to the development of oral cancer.
It’s important to note, however, that 25% of all oral cancers happen in people who don’t smoke and who only occasionally drink alcohol.
How To Prevent Oral Cancer
To prevent oral cancer you should quit smoking or using tobacco products. You should also drink alcohol only in moderation. A well-balanced diet goes a long way for overall health, including preventing cancer.
You should also limit sun exposure. When you’re in the sun, use UV-A/B-blocking sunscreen on your skin and lips.
You should also maintain an active role in your overall health. One of the best ways to do so is to see us regularly for checkups. Self-exams are a great way to spot any changes, but a thorough examination by one of our professionals is the best way to spot potential trouble. Early detection gives you a better chance of treating cancer successfully.
Be Proactive & Reduce Your Oral Cancer Risk
Being proactive about your health is essential to staying healthy. Knowing what to look for and how to reduce your risk of oral cancer can help keep you on track to good health. Remember to schedule your next teeth cleaning and oral cancer screening at our Reading, MA office.