We’re seeing oral cancer more often than we used to. Historically, it’s been associated with tobacco use and alcohol and showed up in the older population (ages 45 and older). We’re now seeing it in younger age groups, and this change seems to be linked to HPV (Human Papiloma Virus). Exposure to sunlight for long periods is also a risk factor, most often for lip cancers.
When oral cancer is found in an early stage, the survival rate is 80-90%. Survival rate drops dramatically if cancer is found at a late stage. Tumors often grow deep into the oral tissue and can spread to other areas of your body.
So you want to check your own mouth and also have your dentist or dental hygienist check your mouth during your dental visits. If you notice any of the common warning signs or symptoms (listed at the end of this article) between your dental visits, contact your dental office. It’s important to note that there are sometimes other causes for each of these warning signs, so having one does not automatically mean you have oral cancer, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. It is estimated that 1 in 10 non-healing white lesions in the mouth are cancerous or precancerous. For non-healing red lesions, that number jumps to 9 out of 10!
A diet high in fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of getting oral cancer. If you use tobacco products, quit. It takes a while, but eventually your risk of getting oral cancer does decrease.
We hope you never have to deal with oral cancer, but remember that the key to beating it is to catch it early!
Oral Cancer: Common Warning Signs & Symptoms:
- Red or white patch (lesion) in your mouth that lasts more than 2 weeks
- Changes in your voice or a hoarseness that lasts longer than 2 weeks
- Sore throat that does not go away
- Pain, swelling, or lump in your mouth or neck that persists for more than 2 weeks.
- Persistent sore area or irritation in your mouth that does not heal or that bleeds easily.
- Color changes.
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness that persists for more than 2 weeks.
- A Lump, thickened area, rough spot, crust, or eroded area in your mouth.
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue.
- A Change in way your teeth fit together when biting.
You can learn more at Oral Cancer
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist with an office at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. Call 440-960-1940. www.drjrobb.com www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb