Getting oral cancer is probably the last thing you’re worried about, but it can happen. The good news is that it is very treatable if it is caught early. In honor of April being Oral Cancer Awareness Month, here are some things you should know about oral cancer!
What You Need To Know About Oral Cancer
Very often, the dentist will be the first one to notice that a patient has signs of oral cancer – this is something that he or she checks for during the 6-month checkup. But you might notice some irregularities yourself that should have you making a dentist appointment right away, such as:
- Red or white patches of tissue in the mouth
- A sore that resembles a canker sore but bleeds and/or doesn’t go away
- Prolonged hoarseness
- Growths or lumps in the mouth
- Persistent earache
- Numbness in the face or tongue
- Pain in the tongue
- Pain and/or stiffness in the jaw
- Difficulty chewing or speaking
- Difficulty swallowing (feeling like food is stuck in your throat)
If you use tobacco and drink alcohol excessively, you are at a higher risk for oral cancer. Your risk increases as you get older, as the average age of diagnosis is 62 years old; however, lately more and more people under the age of 50 are being diagnosed with the disease. And, you should know that about 25% of patients with oral cancer don’t have any risk factors at all – they aren’t older, don’t smoke, and don’t drink.
According to the American Cancer Society, oral cancer is responsible for around 2% of cancer deaths in the country – but the good news is that, when oral cancer is caught early, the 5-year survival rate is 85%. This is just one more reason why dental exams are so important!
It seems like there is always something new to worry about – but seeing your dentist for exams every 6 months is a great way to spot oral cancer early so you can put your worries to rest (regarding oral cancer, at least!). Contact the Konig Center for Cosmetic and Comprehensive Dentistry in Houston, Texas, for a cleaning and exam appointment. Call (713) 668-2289 today!