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The Consequences of Oral Cancer

oral cancer awareness ribbonAs your Houston oral surgeons, we’re deeply concerned about the prevalence of oral cancer. Tens of thousands of individuals are diagnosed with this serious condition each year. Anyone, regardless of their age or habits, could develop this devastating disease. But just how devastating is it? Oral cancer can have consequences for every aspect of a patient’s life, and typically, the longer treatment is delayed, the more severe those consequences are.

Impact on Dental Health

Depending on where the cancer is located, surgery to correct the problem may affect the way oral structures operate. For example, the jawbone, salivary glands, lips, and gums may all be affected. The earlier an oral cancer patient receives treatment from a skilled Houston oral surgeon, the less chance the disease has to spread. Therefore, early treatment is key in making the surgery as minimally invasive as possible.

Chemotherapy, another common cancer treatment, can also have side effects on dental health. It may lead to dry mouth, painful teeth and gums, a burning or peeling sensation on the tongue, and an increased risk of oral infection. A dentist may be able to provide advice and treatment to help prevent some of these side effects.

Impact on Speech

Some types of oral cancer, particularly those that affect the tongue, soft palate, or lips, can make it difficult for patients enunciate their words clearly after an oral surgeon in Houston performs a procedure to remove the cancerous area. In many cases, speech troubles become less severe after a person has healed from their surgery and the swelling has subsided. However, language therapy, which can last several months, is sometimes necessary to help patients regain their ability to clearly form words.

Impact on Overall Health

In a best case scenario, oral cancer stays where it first forms, and doctors can remove it before it spreads to neighboring systems. However, neglecting screening for oral cancer or delaying treatment gives the disease the opportunity to affect the nearby lymph nodes or even distant organs. Cancer that has spread may cause extreme fatigue, chest pain, decreased organ function, and more.

The survival rate for oral cancer is also much lower in instances where the disease has spread beyond the mouth. In cases where it affects distant organs, the five-year survival rate is only 39 percent.

Protect Yourself From the Consequences of Oral Cancer

We hope that you never have to fight oral cancer. You can reduce your chances of developing this disease if you avoid tobacco products, do not overconsume alcohol, eat a healthy diet, and always use proper sun protection.

If you ever notice any suspicious areas in your mouth, or your dentist performs a screening and suggests that you get a biopsy, take prompt action! The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can visit a team of oral surgeons in Houston to get treatment underway. Then, you can get on the road to recovery, and hopefully, suffer minimal consequences to your quality of life.