Oral cancer takes the lives of many people each year – about 9,700 of them, and the number keeps growing. About 53,000 are expected to get mouth cancer this year, but an even higher number of people will get it next year. Detecting this cancer early is important because it normally spreads fast.
The Dentist Can Detect This Cancer
Dentists are trained to identify oral cancer. In most cases, it is the dentist who will spot it before any other medical professional. This makes it important to maintain regular dental visits – especially if you are at risk of developing this type of cancer.
About Oral Cancer
There are several types of cancer of the mouth. They may develop on any part of the mouth, including the tongue, lips, roof of the mouth, the gums, or the throat. Cancer in the mouth normally spreads fast due to all of the blood vessels in the area.
Early detection is very important because it is usually painless until it reaches the advanced stages. Once it is spotted, the individual can get started on a treatment plan as soon as possible. The survival rate is significantly increased when treatment is initiated early. It decreases the longer it takes.
When the dentist spots suspicious tissue, a biopsy will be taken and sent to a lab for analysis. The dentist (oral surgeon) will also be responsible for reconstructive surgery.
Symptoms of Mouth Cancer
It is natural to have an occasional sore in your mouth. In most cases, it is not mouth cancer. Most of these sores will usually go away before long. Some symptoms that you want to look for include:
- Mouth sores that last longer than two weeks
- Swelling that lasts more than three weeks
- Pain when swallowing
- Teeth becoming loose without obvious reason
- Patches on the mouth lining that are red, or red and white
- A lump or thick skin forming in the lining of your mouth
- A continual sore throat, or hoarseness
- Pain in the neck that does not go away.
Risks of Mouth Cancer
In order to avoid and help prevent mouth cancer, it is important to stay away from some things that are known to raise your risk. They include:
- Stop using tobacco of any kind
- If you must drink, do so only in moderation
- Exposure to chemicals such as asbestos, formaldehyde, and sulfuric acid
- Human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Too much exposure to sunlight or UV lamps.
When to See the Dentist
If you have a higher risk of this cancer, it is important to make regular dental visits. The dentist can provide you with mouth cancer screenings and visibly look at the tissue in your mouth and feel your neck (lymph nodes) and throat for lumps.
The friendly dentists at Bright White Dental can provide you with an oral cancer screening. When you wonder about suspicious tissue or have possible symptoms, our dentists can examine it and provide a biopsy if needed. Our dental office also provides many dental services for the entire family.