Oral cancer refers to cancer that either appears in the oral cavity, including the lips, tongue, gingiva, palate, floor of mouth (below tongue), inside of cheek, or in the throat. In the United States, oral cancer comprises 2.9% of total cancers, killing 9,750 people per year. It is important to know and understand some of the signs and symptoms associated with oral cancer, and it is even more important to maintain regular dental check-ups when cancer screening exams are routinely performed. The five-year survival rate for diagnosed cases is 60%, but the chance of survival and successful treatment is much higher if the disease is detected early on. If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, you should contact your dentist for an appointment as soon as possible:
- Persistent sores
- Red or white patches
- Constant pain, tenderness, or numbness
- A lump, tissue thickening, or small erosion
- Difficulty chewing, speaking, or opening the mouth
Men are twice as likely than woman to be diagnosed with oral cancer, especially men over the age of 50 who are alcohol or tobacco users. Human papilloma virus (HPV) is also a risk factor for oral cancer. Remember, the key is early detection, so don’t put off your routine dental visit, and don’t ever hesitate to call if you have concerns or questions. We are here to serve you!