National Cancer Prevention Month happens every February, and it’s a time to acknowledge various types of cancer, work on prevention methods, and focus on living the healthiest life possible. As dentists, we have specialized knowledge on all things oral, including oral cancer, so that’s where our focus will lie.
Oral cancer is not as widespread as many other types, including breast, lung, and skin cancer, but it still accounts for about three percent of cancer cases per year, over 50,000 new cases.
Oral cancer is caused by squamous cells (flat, thin cells that line the mouth and throat) growing uncontrollably in the oral cavity and oropharynx. The leading causes of the expedited growth are tobacco and heavy alcohol use, HPV, sun exposure, and age.
The symptoms of early-stage oral cancer are quite common. If they linger for more than two weeks, you should see your dentist or doctor. The most common symptoms include:
- Sores or lumps in your mouth, throat, or lips
- Red or white patch(es) in your mouth
- Trouble chewing, swallowing, or speaking
- Trouble moving your tongue or jaw
- Numbness in any area of your mouth
- Constant sore throat feeling
As mentioned, many of these symptoms are pretty standard. For example, a sore throat happens for various reasons, and TMJ can result in difficulty moving your jaw. Still, if these symptoms continue or worsen, it’s crucial to get them checked by a professional.
The best ways to avoid oral cancer are to take care of your mouth the same way you take care of your body. Proper dental hygiene goes a long way and limits alcohol use and never uses tobacco products. Oral cancers are most common in men and women over 40, so it’s essential to take extra precautions once you’ve reached that age. Talk to your dentist about any concerns you may have at every checkup.
The dentists at Cakmes Dental Studio are the best in the business and will work with you to keep your mouth as healthy as possible. If you have any questions or have experienced any symptoms mentioned above, reach out to us. We can help determine if oral cancer is in play or something else causing your issues and come up with a solution to keep you on the right path.