Early Warning Signs of Oral Cancer

Do you suspect that you may be at risk for oral cancer? With about 36,500 people being diagnosed yearly, early detection of oral cancer is an indispensable approach to saving lives. The survival rate for oral cancer that is caught early on is 83%, so being mindful of the early symptoms and causes of oral cancer can help you to decide if getting your oral cancer screening is in order.

Causes of Oral Cancer

Certain habits can increase your risk of getting oral cancer. The link between tobacco use and oral cancer is difficult to overlook, with 8 out of 10 oral cancer patients being tobacco users. When combining the use of tobacco with alcohol, you are 15 times more likely to get oral cancer than a non-user. That’s right, excessive alcohol use is another cause of oral cancer, and when combined with tobacco use it can be deadly. These vices alone, however, are not the only causes of oral cancer. Having a family history of oral cancer may slightly increase your chances of getting oral cancer. Excessive sun exposure can also increase your risk for lip cancer.

Common Oral Cancer Symptoms

There are various warning signs of oral cancer to be aware of, and it is recommended to contact your dentist immediately should you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Mouth sores which are persistent and bleed easily, or sores appearing on the face or neck that don’t seem to heal
  • Any unexplained numbness, pain, or tenderness in your face, mouth, or neck
  • Velvety patches in the mouth or on the lip that are white, red, or speckled
  • Unexplained bleeding in your mouth not linked to gingivitis
  • Lumps or swelling in your neck/throat
  • Difficulty swallowing, struggling to moving your jaw or tongue
  • Ear pain
  • Sudden mobility of a tooth without explanation
  • Prolonged hoarseness, chronic sore throat or change in voice

Don’t wait to contact your dentist today for an oral cancer screening if you are encountering any of the above symptoms. Early detection is one of the best defenses against oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Prevention

What can you do to prevent oral cancer? Those who smoke or drink (or do both excessively) are at the highest risk for oral cancer, so the number one step to take would be to quit smoking, and if you don’t smoke, don’t start. Quitting smoking will decrease your risk for oral cancer in five years by 50%. If you’re not a smoker, you can still enjoy having a drink or two as long as you can avoid binge drinking at all costs. This can significantly decrease your risk for oral cancer. You should also get a good helping of fruits and vegetables daily, as they are known for being cancer-fighting foods. Brushing and flossing daily are not only important for keeping good oral hygiene, but can help boost your immune system. You can also conduct a self-exam once a month using a bright light and a mouth mirror for hard to see areas to check for any symptoms that may occur. Most importantly, seeing your dentist regularly is great for early detection. Try getting your oral cancer screening every 3 years if you’re over 20, and get one annually if you are over 40.

Oral Cancer Screening in Tulsa

If you suspect that you may be at risk for oral cancer, book an appointment with us today for an oral cancer screening. Don’t wait, as early detection of oral cancer significantly improves the chance for successful treatment.