Oral Cancer makes up about 3% of all cancers. However, 90% of all oral cancers are squamous cell carcinoma, a type of malignant tumor, diagnosed by biopsy.
Early detection usually comes from your dentist who will examine your mouth and tongue looking for unusual lesions. Should there be a lesion that is suspect, you will be referred to an oral surgeon for biopsy.
In between dental visits check your mouth in the mirror each day when you brush and floss. If there are changes in your mouth or neck, or if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, contact your dentist.
Signs of oral cancer:
- White or red patches in your mouth
- Mouth sores that will not heal
- Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
- Bleeding in the mouth or tongue
- A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust, or small eroded area
- Tooth mobility
- Changes to your bite
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
- Pain while swallowing
- A lump in your neck
- Persistent cough sore throat or earaches
- Hoarseness or other changes in your voice
Oral cancer occurs most often in people who smoke cigarettes, cigars, or pipes and drink heavily (30 drinks or more per week). That combination is estimated to cause most of the mouth and throat cancers diagnosed in the United States.
Some additional risk factors:
Current research shows that some types of human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause throat cancer, which affects the base of the tongue and tonsils. HPV is very common-many people have the virus in their bodies and don’t even know it.
People who often spend long periods of time in the sun are at higher risk for lip cancer.
A diet with too few fruits and vegetables may increase the risk for cancer.
Lower your risk
- As part of your oral hygiene routine, watch for changes in the soft tissues of your mouth
- Avoid all tobacco products
- Avoid heavy alcohol use
- Feel your neck regularly for lumps
- Visit your dentist for regular oral cancer screenings
Contact Dr. David Miller at Commack Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. If you need an oral cancer screening or biopsy.