- April 1, 2016
There are some cancers that get a lot of press, and then there are those that don’t get talked about much at all. Despite the lack of publicity there’s still serious risks associated with less well known cancers, and oral cancer ranks among the most dangerous of them.
At Shorewood Family Dental Care oral cancer screenings are a routine part of exams because we want to catch it as early as possible. The five year survival rate of oral cancer is only around 57 percent, and the main reason is because of how often it’s missed!
Uncovering Oral Cancer
While it isn’t the most common of cancers, oral cancer is a major risk factor for its victims. It’s also incredibly difficult to spot and diagnose because of how long it takes to show easily visible signs. In many cases it isn’t even visible until it has already started to metastasize!
Detecting oral cancer isn’t necessarily impossible, it just takes regular observation and professional examination during a routine appointment. We encourage our patients to look over their mouths around once a month. That’s the optimal way to pick up on any small changes before they progress into something serious.
Whether you’re checking at home or you’ve just noticed something feels different there’s a few things you should know to recognize as oral cancer symptoms. These include:
- white, red, or speckled lumpy spots
- sores that won’t stop bleeding
- raised bumps, lumps, or large patches of oddly textured tissue
- open wounds, ulcers, or crusty spots that last more than two weeks
- bleeding in the mouth without a definite origin
- pain when swallowing
- difficulty moving your jaw to eat, speak, or swallow
- a sensation that something is caught in your throat
- pain in your ears without any loss of hearing
- hoarseness when speaking
- a change in your bite or the way dentures fit
Any of those symptoms could point to oral cancer, so if you think you may have it you should schedule an appointment with us right away!
How To Decrease Your Cancer Risk
Like any kind of illness, cancer, or disease there are things you can do to keep it in check. Proper habits and choices can greatly reduce your risks, but keep in mind that there are still plenty of things beyond your control. That’s why you should really try to live healthy!
- Smoking is a huge oral cancer risk. In fact, you’re about six times more likely to develop cancer as a smoker. If you quit now your chances of developing cancer will drop dramatically.
- Smokeless tobacco is even more dangerous – your oral cancer risks are about 50 times higher than that of a tobacco-free person.
- Heavy drinkers are at the same risk for developing mouth cancer as cigarette smokers.
- A diet that is low in fruits and vegetables puts you at a higher risk for mouth cancer – make sure you’re eating right!
- Excess sun exposure, especially in children, has been linked not only to skin cancer, but to oral cancer as well. Cancer on your lips counts as oral cancer and can be just as deadly!
- If you have a family history of cancer (of any kind) your risk of developing oral cancer is greater.
- Carries or the human papillomavirus (HPV-16 strain) have higher rates of a number of cancers, including oral.
Quitting tobacco use, drinking, eating well, and reducing your sun exposure are all keys to staying healthy. If you have a family history or other risk factors that are beyond your control be sure that you’re staying on top of your oral health – you wouldn’t want to end up with a disease you could have prevented!
What We Can Do To Help
Early diagnosis is a key part of lowering the fatality rate of oral cancer. If you want to keep your mouth and your body healthy you should be sure to schedule an appointment at our Shorewood office as soon as possible. Regular oral exams are the only way to be sure that cancer doesn’t strike. Advanced screening techniques will allow us to detect and prevent the spread of cancer earlier, making survival much more assured.