Oral Cancer Risks & Detection

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Signs and Symptoms

Oral cancer can occur on the inside or outside of the mouth. It can be on the lips, inside the mouth, tonsils, salivary glands or the back of the throat. Oral cancer may require surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy treatment. If it is not detected early, it can also be fatal. Recognizing early symptoms is the key to successful treatment.

See your dentist if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • A sore on your lips or inside the mouth that bleeds easily and doesn’t heal
  • An unexplained pain inside your mouth or ear
  • A lump on your cheek that you can feel with your tongue
  • A lump on your neck
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or inside cheeks
  • A persistent sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing food
  • Numbness of the tongue or mouth
  • Changes in voice or slurred speech

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

Tobacco and alcohol use have been linked to oral cancer. Heavy alcohol use along with cigarette smoking together poses a much greater risk of developing oral cancer than either substance used alone. The sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus, or HPV, has been linked to certain oral cancers. Age is another factor. Your risk of oral cancer increases with age, mostly affecting those over 40. Sun exposure can play a role, such as cancers of the lip. A diet low in fruits and vegetables may be a contributor as well. Eating a healthy diet, not smoking tobacco, and limiting alcohol consumption will significantly lower your risk of developing oral cancer.

Regular Dental & Medical Checkups

You will not always be able to spot the earliest warning signs of oral cancer, which is why regular check-ups with both your dentist and doctor are so important. Your dentist is trained to detect early warning signs of oral cancer so keeping up with your routine dental checkups is imperative. If you don’t have a regular dentist, we would like to invite you to come visit Palm Harbor Premier Dental for your dental exam and cleaning. Call us at (727) 349-3615.