Oral cancer may not receive as much national attention as other forms of cancer, but the facts don’t lie: nearly 115 people will be newly diagnosed with this disease in the United States every day, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.
Oral cancer is extremely curable when discovered in its earliest stages — it has an 80 to 90 percent survival rate when the condition is treated early. However, this is normally not the case, as most patients do not discover their diagnosis until the disease has progressed. You should stay proactive by learning how to scan for the condition and recognize the disease in its beginning stages so you are able to receive the care required to survive.
Stay Aware of Early Symptoms
Many of the early symptoms mask themselves as normal dental health issues. For example, you may develop a sore on your gums or the inside of your cheek. You may chalk it up to stress, but if it does not heal within two weeks, you should see a dental professional right away — this is the most common early sign of oral cancer.
Other early symptoms include any lumps, white or red patches in the mouth, a general sore throat or any inflammation or persistent pain. In addition, a tooth may begin to become loose without any evidence of injury. You might begin to lose weight, or you could have constant bad breath no matter how often you clean your teeth and gums.
Know if You Possess One or More Risk Factors
Your risk for developing oral cancer rises when you smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco. Excessive alcohol consumption further increases the risk.
Family history plays a genetic role in your propensity for developing this type of cancer as well. If you or anyone in your family has a history of any kind of head or neck cancer, stay extra aware of any irregularities in your mouth.
Don’t Neglect Regular Wellness and Dental Visits
One of your best defenses against oral cancer is to consistently visit your regular physician for medical checkups. He or she can guide you on a path to wellness, and any test results may help uncover potential issues.
Stay current on your dental checkups as well. Dental professionals are trained on how to spot this cancer as soon as it begins to show signs of its presence, even before you feel any discomfort. You can protect yourself by allowing medical and dental professionals to do their jobs efficiently through scheduled exams and tests.
Contact Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery if you suspect you may have oral cancer or you have already received a diagnosis — our team’s comprehensive approach to restorative removal can put you back on the path to wellness.