Understanding Oral Cancer
Cancer is a disease that is defined by the characteristic uncontrollable growth of human cells that encroach upon and damage the neighboring tissues. Oral cancer manifests itself as a sore or growth in the mouth that does not disappear naturally and claims the lives of nearly 10,000 Americans every year. These growths occur on/in the: tongue, lips, throat, sinuses, soft and hard palate, floor and roof of the mouth, and the cheeks.
Oral Cancer is a scary form of the disease that can cause the loss of your tongue, your lips, or even your life when not caught early enough in its development cycle. Close to 51,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, and only 57% of individuals who are diagnosed with the disease survive 5 years past the diagnosis. The survival rate for oral cancer is particularly low because it is regularly discovered late into its cycle of growth.
Visiting your dentist every 6 months for an evaluation is critical in the early detection of this cancer. Regular screenings can help save your life.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Mouth cancer is characterized by a wide variety symptoms which may include:
- Persistent sores that do not heal after 1-2 weeks. These sores can range from small, white patches to large red growths.
- Bleeding in the mouth from sore or unknown source.
- Painful or difficult chewing or swallowing
- Chronic sore throat or persistent feeling that something is stuck in the throat
- Consistent Neck or Ear Pain
These symptoms are not exclusive to oral cancer, but may indicate a serious health issue if they last longer than 2 weeks.
If you’ve been experiencing sores or bumps that are not healing after 1-2 weeks, then see a dentist as soon as possible. This could be the preliminary stages of mouth cancer.Get Evaluated Today
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
A few factors can drastically increase your risk of oral cancer. These include:
- Being a male. Men face double the risk of encountering oral cancer in their lifetime.
- Age. Individuals who are over 50 years of age face an increased risk of developing cancers in the mouth.
- Smokers. Smoking tobacco products makes the development of oral cancer over 5x more likely to occur.
- Chewing Tobacco. Using dip or chewing tobacco drastically increase your risk of encountering oral cancer.
- Extreme Sun Exposure. Exposing your lips to the sun for excessive amounts of time can lead to oral cancer, especially in younger individuals.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Having HPV increases your risk for developing a number of different cancers, including mouth cancer.
- Excessive Alcoholism. Consuming an excessive volume of alcoholic beverages can put you at greater risk for encountering many diseases, including oral cancers.
- Genetics. If your family has a history with cancer, then you may be at greater risk for developing cancer of the mouth.
Treatment of Oral Cancer
Similar to the treatment of many other cancers, oral cancer is typically treated with surgical removal of the growth which is then supported by chemotherapy or radiation therapy to remove any of the remaining cancerous cells. Prevention is the best solution for all forms of cancer. Understand which risk factors you fall under, and seek treatment if you suspect anything is amiss.
At Carson & Carson, our two dentists have over 60 years of combined experience and have extensive experience identifying cancerous growths of the oral cavity. We use state of the art dental CT scans and decades of experience to quickly identify oral cancers. Call today and schedule an appointment with an expert Oxnard dentist (805) 983-0717. Visit our common dental problems page to learn about other common dental health issues.Get A Dental CT Scan Today