Over 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, and remaining vigilant in the fight against oral cancer is key to preventing it. Oral Cancer Awareness Month is every April, but that should not be the only time we consider the signs and risk factors of this deadly disease. Learn more about oral cancer with Dr. Mark Sowell of Sensational Smiles in Plano, TX, where we are dedicated to helping patients maintain healthy, beautiful smiles.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Any cancer that develops in the mouth, throat, tongue, lips, or tonsils is referred to broadly as oral cancer. This potentially deadly disease has been steadily on the rise in the United States and is responsible for over 330,000 deaths worldwide every year.
You’re probably familiar with one of the causes of oral cancer, which is tobacco use. Chewing tobacco, smoking, and other tobacco products have long been associated with oral cancer, as well as the lungs and more. You may be surprised to learn that HPV-16 (human papillomavirus), the same virus responsible for causing cervical cancer in women, is also a cause of oral cancer in both men and women.
Oral Cancer Signs and Symptoms: When to See A Dentist
Dentists are adamant about educating patients on the signs and symptoms of oral cancer, and not just in patients who smoke. Many patients are at risk and need to be aware of potential warning signs, which include:
- Sores in the mouth that have not healed after 2 weeks
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Worn areas on the lips or inside the mouth
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw
- Swelling, bumps, rough spots, or patches inside the mouth or on the lips
As with many diseases, the early detection and treatment of oral cancer is crucial to a successful recovery. When detected early, survival rates are much higher and can treatment be managed with minimally-invasive procedures.
Talk to your primary care doctor about the HPV vaccine to safeguard yourself against HPV-16 infection, which is linked to oral cancer. Tell your dentist if you suspect you have been exposed to HPV so they can examine your mouth, throat, and neck for signs of HPV-16.
Preventing Oral Health Problems By Screening Early and Often
Every dental check-up at Sensational Smiles includes a thorough screening for oral cancer. Our team examines the mouth, throat, and neck for signs of oral cancer, and we gather patient history to determine any risk factors. An oral cancer screening is quick and painless, so be certain to schedule and keep your routine 6-month checkups and talk to your dentist if you find any symptoms. Schedule your complimentary consultation with Dr. Sowell online today or call our office at (972) 382-6855.