Each year thousands of people are diagnosed with oral cancer. Oral cancer affects your mouth, throat, lips, or tongue. Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April is an annual reminder to highlight this disease that affects around 54,000 people in the US each year.
The death toll of oral cancer is the equivalent of one person dying every hour, every day each year, with men being around twice as likely to be affected. Survival rate goes up dramatically if you have a quick diagnosis, therefore it’s imperative that you visit your Falls Church dentist at least twice a year for your regular check-up and also are aware of the signs of oral cancer so you can look out for them in between appointments.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
The signs you should look out for during your daily brushing and flossing routine include the following:
A lump or growth in your mouth or cheeks
A sore or sores in your mouth or on your lip that doesn't heal
White or red patch inside of your mouth
Difficulty swallowing or chewing
Pain in your ear or mouth
Loose tooth or teeth
If you experience any of these issues for more than a week or two, please contact our dental office in Falls Church right away so Dr. Karen Harriman can investigate further. During an oral cancer screening, Dr. Harriman will inspect the inside of your mouth and feel for any abnormalities. It’s pain-free and fast! You might not have even noticed, but she performs an oral cancer screening at every exam — you may not have even noticed!
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
As with most cancers, anyone can suffer from oral cancer, however the following habits and lifestyle choices increase your likelihood of getting it;
Consuming tobacco products
Drinking alcohol excessively
Having your face out in the sun often without a hat or SPF lip balm
If you don’t have the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (because people who have HPV are more susceptible to oral cancer)
Not brushing and flossing daily
Not visiting the dentist twice a year
Contact our team if you have any of the symptoms above or if you have any questions about oral cancer.