Do you feel a sore in your mouth that just won’t go away? You may want to get that checked out as soon as possible since it might be a sign of oral cancer. A statistic from the National Institute of Dental Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), states that half of oral cancer patients in the US…
Signs and Symptoms of Mouth Cancer
Mouth cancer is a serious disease that affects millions of people. Fortunately, the chances of survival are high if the disease is caught early, which is another reason you should see your dentist at least twice a year to get checked.
Even though your dentist checks for signs of mouth cancer during your regular exam, it is important to know what the symptoms are so you can check for signs yourself and bring your dentist’s attention to anything you notice.
Symptoms of mouth cancer
Mouth cancer can occur in different parts of the mouth, so you need to do a thorough search when looking for signs of the disease. The most common symptoms are:
- A lingering sore throat or feeling there is something stuck in your throat
- White or red lesions in your mouth or on your lips
- Loose teeth despite not having any dental issues
- Pain in your jaw or tongue when talking, chewing or swallowing
- Swelling in your mouth that makes it difficult to put on your dentures
- Lump in your cheeks
- Weight loss
- Change in voice
How do you get mouth cancer?
When it comes to oral cancer, there is no definitive reason why people get it. However, there are a few things that increase your chances of getting it:
- Smoking or the use of other tobacco products is one of the leading factors that can put you at risk of getting mouth cancer. According to the Mouth Cancer Association, 90 percent of the people diagnosed with mouth cancer use tobacco
- Heavy consumption of alcohol is another leading factor that puts you at risk of getting oral cancer. People who consume a lot of alcohol and use tobacco products are more at risk of getting the disease than other people who do not use either of the two
- Your eating habits can also put you at risk of mouth cancer, especially if you do not eat a lot of fruits and vegetables
- Overexposure to the sun can also lead to cancer of the lips
- In recent years, the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, HPV16, has been linked to mouth cancer
Getting tested for mouth cancer
As previously mentioned, your dentist will perform a mouth cancer check when you go in for your dental exam, but you can also specifically request a cancer screening to be safe. If your dentist notices anything during the screening, they will order a biopsy to confirm if it is indeed cancer.
If the test comes back positive, you may require surgery to treat the cancerous area, followed by chemotherapy treatments.
Can I prevent mouth cancer?
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent getting cancer. However, you can reduce your chances of getting it by practicing good oral hygiene, eating healthy and avoiding tobacco products and excessive alcohol consumption.
Getting diagnosed with mouth cancer can be a scary experience, but your chances of survival are very good if it is caught early. Make sure you perform routine mouth cancer checks on yourself and visit your dentist regularly so you can catch it before it worsens.
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