Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers diagnosed today, and its symptoms require immediate attention. Thousands of new cases are reported each year, and those who seek treatment for their cancer in its early stages are more likely to be among the roughly 50% of cases that are cured.
Adults over the age of 40 (especially men) are most susceptible to developing oral cancer, but people of all ages are at risk. If oral cancer is not treated in time, it could spread to other facial and neck areas, so it's important to be aware of the signs and symptoms.
Oral cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth, but the tongue appears to be the most common location. Cancer can also occur in the lips, gums and other soft palate tissues in the mouth.
In general, early signs of oral cancer usually occur in the form of lumps, patchy areas and lesions, or breaks in the tissues of the mouth. In many cases, these abnormalities are not painful in the early stages, making self-diagnosis difficult.
Make note of the following symptoms:
- Hoarseness or difficulty swallowing.
- Unusual bleeding or persistent sores in the mouth that won't heal.
- Lumps or growths in other nearby areas, such as the throat or neck.
If a tumor is found, surgery will generally be required to remove it, but our doctors will review your specific case.
There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of oral cancer. One of the biggest culprits is tobacco and alcohol use. Certain kinds of foods and even over-exposure to the sun have also been linked to oral cancer. Some experts believe certain oral cancer risk factors are also hereditary.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the best defenses against oral cancer. Maintaining good oral hygiene, and regular dental checkups, are highly recommended.
Speak to your dentist or schedule a consultation with our office if you believe you have symptoms of oral cancer. Our doctors are trained to both detect and treat this form of cancer -- and it's important to have us look at any suspicious lumps or patches you find.