How Can You Tell You Have Oral Cancer?

How Can You Tell You Have Oral Cancer?

Aug 01, 2020

Did you know oral cancer accounts of 30 percent of all the cancer cases? Furthermore, it affects over 50,000 adults every year, with one person succumbing to its effects every 24 hours. Fortunately, most of the cancer cases can be prevented with early oral cancer screening.

Oral cancer is an uncontrolled cell growth that invades the tissues and affects the gums, lips, palate, and mouth. Although cancer has no symptoms in the early stages, there are warning signs that you need to note. The problem is these signs mimic other dental issues, and it may be challenging to differentiate them.

Getting an oral cancer screening often, especially if you have risk factors, is the best way of detecting lesions.

What Are the Early Mouth Cancer Symptoms?

  • Swelling, lumps, rough spots, or eroded areas on the gums, lips, or inside the mouth.
  • Persistent sores on the mouth, face, or neck. Non-cancerous spots clear without treatment after a few weeks. However, if the ulcers persist for more than a few months, visit our dentist for an assessment.
  • Unexplained numbness or loss of feeling in your neck, mouth, and face.
  • Soreness on the back of the throat that does not clear out after using home remedies.
  • Difficulty swallowing, speaking or moving your jaw
  • Chronic sore throat, hoarseness, and change of voice
  • Red patches in your mouth
  • Dramatic weight
  • A change in your dental restorations
  • Ear pain

Contact our dentist for an assessment and screening if you have one or multiple of these mouth cancer symptoms.


Q. Who is At Risk of Developing Oral Cancer?

According to the American Oral Cancer Society, men above 50 years are more at risk than women, but anyone can be affected. Other oral cancer risk factors include:

  • Smoking and tobacco chewing. Cigarette or cigar smoking increases the risk of mouth cancer. Second-hand smoke can also increase your risk. Please take note; 25 percent of the oral cancer cases affect non-smokers.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Family history
  • Sun exposure
  • HPV or Human Papillomavirus
  • Poor nutrition

These are risk factors that influence the chances of developing oral cancer. However, it is worth noting you can still develop oral cancer without the risk factors. That is why it important to visit your dentist bi-annually for an assessment and proper diagnosis.

Q. What to Expect During Your Oral Cancer Screening?

Mouth cancer screening involves both physical and visual screening. The dentist will examine your lips, gums, and mouth to check for any abnormalities or sores. The visual tests are done using imaging testing tools to examine any lacerations.

If there is any abnormal cell growth, the dentist may recommend a biopsy for further diagnosing. This test involves extracting a small piece of the skin from the affected area for proper examination.

If oral cancer is detected, the dentist may perform other tests to determine the extent of cancer.

Q. What Forms of Oral Cancer Treatment Are Used?

The treatment will depend on the cancer location, stage, and overall health. The dentist may use one or a combination of these cancer treatments.

  • Surgery. Surgical procedures may be done to remove the tumor or to reconstruct the mouth. Surgery may affect your ability to swallow or eat.
  • Radiation therapy uses x-rays and high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. This therapy is used after surgery. But in early cancer stages, it is used alone or in combination with chemotherapy.
  • Chemotherapy uses chemicals to kills cancer cells. The treatment increases the effectiveness of radiotherapy. Common chemotherapy side effects include nausea, vomiting, and hair loss.
  • Drug therapy is used to alter aspects of the cancer cells that promote their growth. The drug therapy is used together with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
  • Immunotherapy uses your body’s defense system to fight cancer. But, it is reserved for people with advanced cancer.

Schedule an Appointment

At Pleasure Dental, we perform an oral cancer screening during your routine dental checkup. Visit our dental clinic to learn more about oral cancer screening, how it is done, and its risks.

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