Early Detection is Your Best Protection
Oral cancer claims 8,000 American lives annually. The painless, sneaky disease often goes undetected until it spreads to the neck and lymph nodes, at which time treatment becomes less effective. Our office routinely screens patients for oral cancer during check ups.
We check for those tell-tale white patches, persistent mouth sores, tissue color changes, spots of pain, tenderness, numbness, or any changes in your bite over time. We'll also ask about lifestyle habits, difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your tongue. If we find an area of concern, we can order an inexpensive and painless biopsy. Regular dental visits can help us detect, and thus treat, oral cancer in the early stages. However, knowing and avoiding risk factors will greatly improve your chance of avoiding this life-threatening disease.
Risk Factors of Oral Cancer
The five most common risk factors for oral cancer are tobacco use, frequent high quantity alcohol consumption, constant sunlight exposure, habitual cheek or lip biting, and poorly fitting dentures. In fact, 80 to 90 percent of oral cancers are found in people who use tobacco, drink excessively, or both.
When to See Your Doctor
Anything that causes constant irritation to mouth and lip tissues may eventually result in white patches of leukoplakia, red sores, or small indurated ulcers that can undergo excessive cell growth, leading to cancer. Mouth sores that do not dissipate in two weeks should be inspected by your dentist or physician. A mass in the neck or mouth, oral or facial numbness, pain when chewing or swallowing, lasting hoarseness, or wart-like areas are indicators that you need to see your dentist or doctor for an oral cancer screening.