Each day thousands of people are diagnosed with different types of cancers. We all know families who have been affected by cancer. These cancers range from breast to lung to skin cancer. These awful diseases have developed in just about every aspect of the human body.
One in particular that is not as well known, but equally dangerous, is oral cancer. It is estimated that almost 42,000 Americans are diagnosed each year from oral and throat cancers. The prediction is that in 2017 it will increase to just shy of 50,000 according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. The 5 year survival rate of these patients is only about 64%. With oral cancer on the rise, it is important to educate yourself in the risks and warning signs to protect yourself.
Early Warning Signs
Discovering oral and throat cancer early on increases your chances of survival significantly. There are several warning signs you can be on the lookout for. Here are just a few for you to keep in mind:
- Red or white patches on the gum line, cheek, or soft palate
- Irritation or sores that will not dissipate
- Pain or numbness in your mouth or lips
- A shift in the way your bite feels
- Difficulty chewing, moving your jaw or tongue, speaking, or swallowing
- A lump or erosion of an area in your mouth
Friends, we do screenings everyday for patients to help them know if there’s something that looks fishy. Most oral cancer is noticed first by your dentist. When you go to your 6 month checkup, your dentist will inspect your mouth at the beginning of the exam and look for potential signs. If you feel that you may have some irregularities in your mouth, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor right away.
Have an oral cancer diagnosis? You and your doctor will be able to discuss your treatment options. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are common treatments, but like most things, it will be specific to what’s going on with you.
There are a few risk factors that can make some people more susceptible to these types of cancers. Age and genetics can cause you to be more likely to contract oral cancer. If you are over the age of 55 and suffer from immune deficiencies this also increases your odds. Men make up a large majority of oral cancer patients. Other risk factors are lifestyle related. Usage of tobacco products and excessive alcohol consumption increases your likelihood of cancer. Additionally there have also been links between sexually transmitted diseases and oral/throat cancer. It is specifically related to the human papilloma virus (HPV) as well.
Oral cancer is a very serious health concern that you should not take lightly. If you are experiencing any of these warning signs or you are concerned you might be at risk, please speak with your dentist or doctor immediately. Even if you are not, it’s a good idea to ask your dentist if you are demonstrating any potential oral cancer symptoms or if there are any concerns present. At our offices, we are big believers in helping you be aware of what’s going on in your health. Oral cancer screenings are a simple way to stay aware.