Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April is an important part of our yearly calendar as it’s a time to reflect on this dangerous disease and highlight the risk factors and symptoms so that we can prevent more people from developing it and increase chances of surviving an oral cancer diagnosis.
You may not be aware, but dentists are usually the first port of call when identifying oral cancer. We do this during your biannual check-ups as well as any time a patient calls us with any concerning symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
Dr. Harriman advises patients to look out for certain symptoms so that they can catch this disease early. The survival rate of oral cancer improves dramatically when spotted and treated early, so please have these top of mind when you carry out your daily oral care.
Signs and symptoms of mouth cancer can include a:
sore in your mouth or on your lip that doesn't heal
white or red patch inside of your mouth
lump or growth in your mouth or cheeks
ear or oral pain, including difficulty swallowing or chewing
loose tooth or teeth
How to Reduce Your Chance of Getting Oral Cancer
Your general health and habits can affect your chances of getting any type of cancer, but for oral cancer specifically, you can take the following actions to help prevent it:
Reducing your tobacco and alcohol intake
Using SPF lip balms to protect from the sun
Consider the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination
Around 54,000 people in the US are diagnosed with a type of oral cancer each year with a death toll accounting for the equivalent of someone dying every hour of the day for the entire year. Note that men are twice as likely to get oral cancer in their life.
Please lookout for the symptoms and visit the dentist regularly for check-ups, cleanings, and oral cancer screenings. This is an important piece of the puzzle to increase the chance of early detection which can be key to your journey.
Our team at Karen Harriman, DDS - Comprehensive & Esthetic Dentistry in Falls Church is fully equipped to spot early signs of oral cancer, so don’t hesitate to get in touch should you have any of the symptoms for more than two weeks.