Happy spring! Did you know that April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month? While this isn’t the most positive topic for discussion, it’s an important one. After all, more than 40,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with oral cancer. With that many cases around the country, it’s super important that you know the risks and recognize the symptoms of oral cancer.
Oral cancer is actually any type of cancer found in the mouth, which includes the lips, tongue, cheeks and floor of the mouth. When it’s not caught and treated early, oral cancers can be life threatening. This is important to note due to the fact that the symptoms of oral cancer can be difficult to detect because they are painless.
That said, when oral cancers are detected early, survival rates are very high! That’s why it’s so important to understand and recognize the symptoms, which include:
- Swelling in and around the mouth, including lumps, bumps or eroded areas
- Unexplained bleeding
- Patches inside the mouth or on the lips that are red or white in color
- Mouth sores that are persistent and do not heal quickly
- Pain when chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw
- Numbness in the mouth, face or neck
While everyone is at risk for oral cancers, adults that are over 40 years of age are at a higher risk. Additionally, men are about twice as likely as women to develop these cancers. If you use tobacco (even smokeless tobacco) or drink heavily, you also have an increased risk. Other risk factors include sun exposure, family history of oral cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV).
Want to know the best way to catch these cancers early? Keeping those regular dental exams! Oral cancer detection is just one more reason why it’s so important to make sure you see your dentist regularly. Ask us today how we help to screen you for this unfortunate disease.