Close to 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. The death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of many other cancers not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development.
In general, you should take note of any changes occurring in the gums, the tongue, the floor or roof of the mouth, the skin on the inside of the cheek or any swelling in the bony areas of the mouth or face. You should look for discoloration, ulcerations and growths. While the large majority of such growths are benign (not cancerous), it is often necessary to determine this for sure with a biopsy. Furthermore, many benign growths may require removal.
If you notice any changes be sure to schedule a screening. You are the most important factor in an early diagnosis.