Early detection of oral cancer is crucial for successful treatment. Just over half of people diagnosed with the condition survive after five years, according to The Oral Cancer Foundation. Receiving regular screenings and keeping an eye out for the early warning signs of oral cancer can help you increase the odds of successfully treating the condition.
But what are the early warning signs of mouth cancer? And how can you prevent the disease? We’ve provided information about the increasingly common cancer below.
Risk Factors for and Signs of Oral Cancer
Cancer of the mouth affects slightly more men than women, and the risk of developing the condition rises for patients over the age of 55. People who smoke or use tobacco are significantly more likely to have oral cancer, especially when tobacco use is combined with heavy alcohol consumption. A family history of cancer is another significant risk factor.
Your general dentist will monitor the soft tissues of your mouth for signs of oral cancer, but you should also monitor the health of your own lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, and throat. Notify your doctor if you notice anything suspicious that lasts for more than two weeks.
The early warning signs and symptoms of mouth cancer include…
- Persistent sores, lumps, or bumps in or around the mouth or throat
- Lesions in or around the oral cavity
- A sore throat or a change in the tone of voice
- Changes in facial symmetry
- Numbness or pain in the mouth or lips
- Swelling of the gums, lips, or throat
Most people should receive an oral cancer screening once a year. But if you have one or more of the risk factors for the condition, you may benefit from additional screenings. Discuss the need for oral cancer examinations with your doctor.
Where to Get an Oral Cancer Screening
So you know oral cancer screenings are vitally important as you get older, but you’re not quite sure where to get one. In Houston, the team at Piney Point OMS performs regular screenings as well as biopsy of suspicious spots and treatment of oral cancer.
What happens during an oral cancer screening? First, you and your dentist will thoroughly discuss your oral health. Have you noticed any unusual spots lately? Any bumps that haven’t gone away after two weeks? You are the expert in your own health, after all. Open and honest communication is always important at your doctor’s office.
The screening for cancer of the mouth is a visual and tactile examination of your mouth, throat, lips, tongue, and cheeks. Your doctor will look out for bumps, lumps, and asymmetries. If suspicious areas are found, a biopsy may be necessary. Frequent screenings allow your doctor to treat cancerous spots soon after they develop.
Preventing Mouth Cancer
In addition to undergoing regular screenings to increase the odds of early detection, you can adopt some lifestyle habits that will help you lower your risk of developing oral cancer. Stopping tobacco use, reducing your alcohol consumption, and lowering your exposure to sunlight are all good ideas for improving your overall health and wellbeing.
When was your last oral cancer screening? Regular examinations are key to the early detection that could save your life. Schedule an appointment for an oral cancer screening with your Houston oral surgeon today!