Oral cancer can affect the tongue, lips, inner cheek, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat, as well as other parts of the mouth. It’s important to be aware of the common oral cancer symptoms so that the disease can be detected early and treated promptly, reducing the chance for the cancer to spread and become life-threatening.
What are Some Common Oral Cancer Symptoms?
Any unusual growth in the mouth area is cause for concern. This could include:
• A swollen, thickened, or crusted-over area
• An unexplained lump or bump
• Red or white patches
• Unexplained bleeding
• Numbness, pain, or discomfort
• Persistent sores that last longer than two weeks
• Trouble chewing, swallowing, or moving the jaw or tongue
• A sore throat or ear pain
• Changes in bite
• Dramatic, unexplained weight loss
Am I at Risk for Oral Cancer?
It’s especially critical to be aware of oral cancer symptoms if you are at high risk for developing this disease. Risk factors for oral cancer include:
• Smoking or using smokeless tobacco. Cigarette or cigar smoking carries a six-fold risk for oral cancer compared to those who do not smoke. Smokeless tobacco multiplies the risk for cheek, gum, and lip cancer more than 50 times.
• Alcohol consumption, which increases risk six times over those who do not drink
• A family history of any type of cancer
• Excessive sun exposure
• Having the human papillomavirus (HPV)
Keep in mind that while drinking and smoking are major risk factors, a quarter of cancer cases occur among those who do not smoke and drink occasionally or not at all.
Is Oral Cancer Preventable?
Lifestyle measures can lower some risks for oral cancer. Have dental checkups at Cascades Center for Dental Health every six months or more often if indicated; our dentist will screen for oral cancer. In between appointments, check your own mouth for the oral cancer symptoms listed above.
As with other types of cancer, oral cancer is treated by removing the cancerous growth and using chemotherapy or radiation to prevent additional cancer from developing. Make an appointment at our office in Sterling right away if you are concerned about oral cancer to improve your prognosis through early diagnosis and treatment. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!