Every year in the US, roughly 50,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed—what a staggering figure! However, this isn’t entirely bad news; if left untreated, oral cancer can progress rapidly and wreak havoc all across your mouth. And fortunately, oral cancer is also among the most preventable types of cancer; especially if you know what to look for and what preventive measures to take. Here’s more from your dentist about oral cancer, it’s symptoms and risk factors, and why it’s important to catch the disease early on with an oral cancer screening!
Common Risk Factors of Oral Cancer
Researchers aren’t quite sure what specifically causes oral cancer; however, they have successfully linked it with several differing things including:
- Smoking and using tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco).
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- HPV (Human Papillomavirus).
- Sun or radiation exposure to the face.
- Genetic syndromes.
- Poor nutrition.
- Weakened immune system.
- Other types of head or neck cancer.
Common Symptoms & Warning Signs
Keep an eye out for the following warning signs; they might warrant a trip to the dentist’s office for an oral cancer screening:
- Swelling or stiffness in your neck and throat.
- Lumps in your cheeks.
- Red or white sores on your gums, tonsils, or mouth tissue that don’t heal.
- Difficulty when speaking, biting, chewing, swallowing, or moving your jaw and tongue.
- Loose teeth.
- A sore throat.
- A recurring earache.
- Dramatic weight loss.
- Constant bad breath.
Some of these symptoms, including a sore throat or earache, might indicate other conditions—but if you notice any of these symptoms, especially if they’re persistent or combined with other symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist.
Why Catching Oral Cancer Early Is Important
Oral cancer is actually quite preventable, but it depends on your willingness to stay diligent and make wise lifestyle choices. Quitting smoking, sticking to a healthy diet, and protecting your mouth from certain things all play an integral role in preventing oral cancer—but one of the best things you can do is visiting your dentist for preventive care, ideally every six months. During these visits, your dentist can perform a health screening and investigate your mouth for signs of oral cancer. They’ll use any combination of X-rays, scans, biopsies, and more to thoroughly search for any signs of the disease.
Since there are four stages of oral cancer that increase in severity, catching the disease in its early stages greatly increases the patient’s chances of survival; while 60% of patients with oral cancer survive for five or more years, the five-year overall survival rate for those with stage 1 and 2 oral cancers is typically 70% to 90%. This makes timely diagnosis and treatment all the more important!
If you’re concerned about oral cancer and think you might be at risk, don’t hesitate to visit your dentist for a screening. Treatment is readily available and seeking it sooner rather than later is in your best interest!
About the Practice
The team at Lakeside Daytona Dentist is proud to serve patients and families in the Daytona Beach area under the leadership of Dr. Gladston Silva and Dr. Lisset Gonzalez. Together they combine several years of experience to provide their patients with an exceptional level of dental care. Their practice is pleased to offer many available services including oral cancer screenings. To schedule an appointment, feel free to reach out online or over the phone: (386) 274-2021.