If you’re a Madison professional, odds are that you don’t have a lot of free time on your hands. Juggling deadlines, meetings, and commutes with family responsibilities can leave little time for your own personal health, including dental issues. However, taking just a few minutes to take stock of your oral health or that of a loved one in your care might make all the difference in spotting signs of oral cancer. With early detection, oral cancer is usually curable.
What are Signs of Oral Cancer?
- Symptoms, Seen and Unseen
- Are You at Risk for Oral Cancer?
- Regular Check-ups for Early Detection
Symptoms of Oral Cancer, Seen and Unseen
The most noticeable symptoms of oral cancer are those that can be seen. Oral cancer can present as a sore, irritation, or lump in the mouth, lip, or throat. It can also appear as a thick red or white patch in the mouth.
Sometimes, oral cancer can’t be seen but rather felt. It can feel like a sore throat or like something is stuck in the throat. Oral cancer can cause ear pain or numbness in the tongue or mouth. It can also result in swollen gums that can cause things like dentures to become uncomfortable.
Other symptoms of oral cancer include difficulty in chewing, swallowing, talking, or moving the tongue and jaws.
Are You at Risk for Oral Cancer?
Any kind of tobacco use is a known risk factor for oral cancer, as is heavy drinking. Heavy drinking is considered to be more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer than women.
Advanced age is another risk factor for oral cancer, with most cases occurring in people over the age of forty.
For younger people, having the sexually transmitted disease human papilloma virus (HPV) makes them more at risk for developing oral cancer. The CDC attributes approximately 9,000 new cases of oral cancer each year to HPV.
For further reading: HPV and Oropharyngeal Cancer, CDC
Sun exposure is another cause of oral cancer.
Regular Check-ups for Early Cancer Detection
Maintaining regular dental check-ups is essential for early detection of oral cancer. At these visits, your dentist will examine your mouth for any signs of trouble. If you are caring for an aging parent, helping them visit the dentist is an important way you can assist in protecting them from the disease.
Other ways to protect yourself include decreasing or eliminating alcohol consumption, ceasing tobacco use, and using sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen when outdoors.
Affiliated Dentists in Madison, Wisconsin
If you or a loved one is concerned about oral cancer, please schedule an appointment with us today. Our dentists will conduct an exam for any signs, discuss treatment, and refer you to a specialist, if necessary.
Affiliated Dentists provides general dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin.
What are Signs of Oral Cancer? brought to you by Dr. Mark Gustavson