In the United States, oral cancer kills approximately 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. This projects up to 8,000 deaths per year. Now that we’ve got your attention regarding the severity of this type of cancer, here’s some good news. Oral cancer is highly treatable if it is detected early. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of its warning signs and a late discovery often means a devastating prognosis.
Since early detection is so important, it only makes sense that you do your part by learning how to identify oral cancer symptoms. Mouth cancer includes cancer in any part of the oral cavity or oropharynx, including the mouth, gums and lips as well the throat at the back of your mouth. It’s symptoms and warning signs may not be as obvious as you think, so educating yourself is strongly advised.
Its symptoms cover a wide range, some not as obvious as you may think. Nevertheless, here are the warning signs of oral cancer:
- White, red, or mixed red and white spots (or patches) on your tongue, gums, or any other tissues in your mouth
- A sore or irritation in the mouth that bleeds easily and doesn’t heal
- Bleeding in the mouth
- Persistent tenderness, pain, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
- A lump or thickening in the cheek or neck
- A thick, rough, or crusty spot, or a small area in the mouth
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, talking, or moving your jaw or tongue
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down
- A change in your voice that isn’t due to a cold or allergies
- An earache that doesn’t go away
- Numbness of the lower lip and chin
By conducting your own self-check at home on a regular basis, you can potentially save your life. If you experience any of the above symptoms, please address your concerns with your dentist. Mitzi Morris, DMD, PC recommends an oral cancer screening on a yearly basis during one of your routine dental exams. However, it is equally important that patients take note and promptly respond to any warning signs or abnormal changes in their lips, cheek, gums or throat.
In addition to being aware of the warning signs of oral cancer, you can also take steps in prevention. Keep your mouth and body at optimal health. This includes seeing your dentist every six months, maintaining proper oral hygiene at home as well as adopting a well-balanced diet and exercising. Limiting alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco products can also greatly reduce your risk for mouth cancer.