There are almost 50,000 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed each year. If caught early, oral cancers have a 90 percent survival rate. However, the majority are caught in the advanced stages, and as a result, one person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day. Because it is recommended that everyone see their dentist regularly, the dental profession has become a leading line of defense against oral cancers.
As with many cancers, the exact triggers for oral cancer are unknown. However, there are certain factors that greatly increase the risk in developing it.
- Sex — Men are more than twice as likely as women to get oral cancer.
- Drinking and Smoking — A high risk group for oral cancer are smokers and excessive drinkers of alcohol any age, but especially over 50.
- Age — The risk increases with age, with 95 percent of oral cancers being detected in those over 40.
- HPV — The human papillomavirus virus is sexually transmitted and has a very high association with oral cancers of the throat and neck.
Early Warning Signs
Oral cancers can appear in the lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, palate, and throat. They can be difficult for individuals to identify because other non-cancerous issues may mimic cancer. However, if you have any of the following symptoms and they don’t disappear within two weeks, you should see your dentist or doctor.
- Sores, ulcers, or irritated spots that don’t heal
- Red or white patchy spots
- Tenderness, soreness, pain, or numbness in the mouth or lips
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or moving your tongue or jaw
- A persistent sore throat or an unexplained change of voice
Early diagnosis is crucial to effectively combat the disease. Regular dental checkups are not only beneficial for a healthy smile but are an effective screening tool to maintain good overall general health as well. When was your last checkup? Call our office today to set up your appointment.