Some 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with either oral or pharyngeal cancer on an annual basis. These types of cancers claim the lives of nearly 10,000 Americans each year – or about one person every hour. Furthermore, of all those diagnosed with either oral or pharyngeal cancer, less than 60 percent will still be living within 5 years.
Many people are surprised to learn that oral cancer death rates are higher than that of other, more common cancers – and that’s a big part of the reason why many dental practices are making it part of the cleaning appointment to first do a screening to see if there’s any evidence of such. However, often times you don’t need a dentist to tell you if something is awry within your mouth, as there are signs and symptoms that you can be on the lookout for as well when it comes to detecting possible oral cancer.
Warning Signs of Oral Cancer
As is the case with any cancer, early detection is key to beating it. When it comes to oral cancer, it can occur anywhere in or around the mouth, such as the lips, the tongue, throat and sinuses. Here are some of the warning signs of oral cancer:
- Unusual lumps or sores anywhere in the mouth region
- Red or white colored lesions in the mouth region, particularly on the lips
- An unusual feeling of a lump in the throat
- Swelling that make certain dental apparatuses, such as dentures, uncomfortable to wear
- Numbing or pain anywhere in the mouth
- Regularly occurring sore throat
- Difficulty moving either the jaw or the tongue
- Difficulty doing routine tasks, such as chewing or talking
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
While the aforementioned are signs to take note of, there are also a number of identified risk factors that make oral cancer more likely. These risk factors include:
- Tobacco use: It doesn’t matter if its cigarettes, cigars, pipes or chewing tobacco – any type of tobacco is linked to a greater chance of oral cancer. The Mouth Cancer Foundation has gone as far to say that 90 percent of all people diagnosed with oral cancer use tobacco of some sort.
- Alcohol: Heavy alcohol consumption is another identified risk factor. “Double dipping” and combining heavy alcohol consumption with any type of tobacco use can substantially increase the risk.
- Diet: Not getting enough fruits and vegetables? It has been linked to the onset of oral cancer.
- Sun Exposure: If you’re planning to be out in the sun for long periods of time, make sure you protect your lips appropriately.
- Safe Sex: Practice safe sex, as there’s been an increase in oral cancers associated with HPV 16.
Do You Still Have Questions?
For more information on the warning signs of oral cancer and whether or not your lifestyle may put you at risk, contact our doctors, Dr. Richard Caven, Dr. Shelby Denman, and Dr. Stephen Carpenter, by calling our Caven Dental office in Jacksonville, FL, to schedule a consultation today!