Thousands of Americans are diagnosed each year with oral cancer, yet few patients are familiar with the common signs, symptoms, and preventative measures that should be taken. When diagnosed early, the prognosis of oral cancers improves significantly, so early detection is essential.
Keep yourself informed with the facts and symptoms of oral cancer to keep you or someone you love from being claimed by the disease.
Cancerous mouth sores and abnormal growths differ from other common sorest that can form in and around the mouth. Mouth sores caused by oral cancer differ from a canker sore or cold sore because they do not go away with time.
Bleeding gums are often thought of as a signal of periodontal disease. Unexplained bleeding in the mouth can also be a common symptom of certain types of oral cancers. Experiencing any abnormal or excessive bleeding of the gums should always be discussed with your dentist to monitor the situation closely.
A loss of feeling in the mouth, face, or neck area can all be indications of severe health issues. A sensation of numbness is a common sign of oral cancer. Persistent pain or tenderness in these areas should be discussed with your dentist or doctor as soon as possible to rule out oral cancer as a cause.
Difficulty in swallowing food can be a sign of oral cancer. Additionally, experiencing difficulties when talking or moving your tongue can also be indications of cancer that should be discussed and examined by a professional.
Experiencing chronic sore throat, in addition to persistent hoarseness or a sudden change in the sound of your voice, should be a cause for concern. While anyone can experience a sore throat from time to time, it should not be a persistent thing. Having an exam performed by your healthcare provider can help to rule out any significant health risks.
Red or White Patches
Growths and sores are not the only abnormalities you should be checking for inside your mouth. Red or white patches can also be an indication of oral cancer. Your dentist should examine any dry or rough areas inside the mouth, on the lips, or the gums at your routine exams.
What To Expect From an Oral Cancer Exam
An oral cancer exam is performed at your regular dental check-up. This quick and easy exam only takes a few minutes and can provide some early warning signs of oral cancer.
Here's what you can expect:
- Your dentist will start by inspecting your face, neck, lips, and inside the mouth, looking for any indications of oral cancer.
- The area under your jaw and the side of your neck will be examined with your dentist's hands to look for any lumps or bumps.
- Next, the insides of your lips and cheeks will be examined to search for red or white patches.
- Your tongue will be checked for swelling or abnormal colors or textures.
- The roof of your mouth and back of your throat will be examined.
- Finally, your dentist will put one finger on the floor of your mouth, with the other hand under your chin, and gently press down to check for lumps or sensitivity.
If You Have Any Concerns About Oral Cancer Symptoms
While anyone can get oral cancer, specific individuals are more at risk. Some of the most common risk factors that increase your chances of developing oral cancer are those who smoke, use tobacco products, drink alcohol in excess, have excessive sun exposure, or have a family history of cancers.
Tompkins Dental has the VELscope Vx®, an advanced oral assessment system that reveals abnormal cells at risk for becoming cancerous. With early identification, you can take action and avoid oral cancer.
If you are concerned about oral cancer symptoms or have not been screened for signs and symptoms, contact Tompkins Dental today to schedule an oral cancer screening.