Just hearing the word “cancer” is scary. It’s something we fear and usually don’t want to talk about. For some, a visit to the dentist is additionally scary…but that fear can complicate matters when it comes to the discovery and treatment of oral cancer.
Oral cancer is the growth of abnormal cells on any part of the mouth, lips, tongue, or gums.
It can also occur on the lining of the cheeks and the roof of the mouth.
Most oral cancers begin in the lining of the mouth or lips, which is made up of thin squamous cells.
Consider these facts:
•Approximately 37,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year.
•Just over half will be alive five years later. Those are frightening statistics!
•Oral cancer’s high death rate is primarily due to its late discovery.
•If caught early, oral cancer is highly treatable.
•Twice yearly dental exams and cleanings are vitally important in the early detection, prevention and treatment of oral cancer.
Oral cancer may be caused by:
•Exposure to UV light from the sun or the use of tanning beds
•Having some types of human papillomavirus (HPV)
•Tobacco use, in all forms – tobacco use accounts for 90% of all oral cancers
Symptoms of oral cancer include:
•Difficulty swallowing, chewing or talking
•Persistent pain, tenderness, or numbness on your lips or in your mouth
•A change in your voice that isn’t due to a cold or allergies
•Feeling like something is caught in your throat
•Red or white spotty patches on your tongue or in your mouth
•A lump or thickening in your cheek or neck
•A thick, rough spot or a small area in your mouth that looks like it’s wearing away
•An irritation on your mouth or lip that bleeds easily and doesn’t heal
To prevent oral cancer or catch it when it is treatable, it is important to visit your dentist for a check-up and cleaning twice a year.
Call to book an appointment with Dr. Holbrook, today: (505) 881-1159.