Oral cancer is not among the most common forms of cancer in the United States, but it still impacts an estimated 54,000 adults in the U.S. every year. When caught early, oral cancer is often treatable. Left undetected, it can prove fatal.
Around 13,500 people die each year from this disease.
Oral cancer is more than twice as likely to occur in men. This may have to do with personal decisions such as tobacco and alcohol use. Labeled a “lifestyle disease” by medical professionals, risks for oral cancer are significantly heightened in people who drink and smoke. Individually, these habits increase risks by six times each. Together, they increase the risk of developing oral cancer by more than 15x.
April is both Oral Cancer Awareness Month and Alcohol Awareness Month. This is a fantastic opportunity to assess risks, reconsider habits, and take steps to protect the long-term health and beauty of your smile.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
The primary symptom of oral cancer is the development of a sore that will not heal. This may present as a red or white patch, a lesion, or a lump and may be accompanied by:
- Mouth ulcers
- Pain in the ears
- Mouth and facial pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
These symptoms should be brought to our attention right away if sores or patches are present. They should be monitored and brought to our attention if they fail to subside after a few days as well, even without the presence of a sore.
Diagnosing Oral Cancer
During every routine cleaning, we carefully examine the tongue, cheeks, and soft oral tissue for signs of cancer. When needed, additional diagnostic tests can be used to determine if cancer is present, including biopsy, to help ensure proper diagnosis.
If we suspect cancer is developing, we may refer you to a local oncologist for additional diagnostics and treatment options. There are multiple treatment options for oral cancer, including oral medications, surgery, and radiation therapy, that have proven very efficacious in treating the disease.
Wood Creek Dental is committed to your complete oral health. If it has been longer than six months since your last check-up, call our Greenville office at 864-288-5300 or our Landrum office at 864-457-3425 to schedule an examination right away.