All About Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is one of the rarer types of cancer. If you haven’t heard about it, chances are it’s because it represents only about three percent of all cancers. On average, about 50,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Though it may not be common, it is extremely important to be aware of. Knowing the signs and symptoms of oral cancer to watch for can help in early diagnosis.
In this brief overview, we’ll explore the basics you need to know about oral cancer and prevention.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can cause a wide array of problems within the mouth. Some common symptoms include white, red, or speckled patches in the mouth, swelling or bumps on lips, gums, or cheeks, bleeding in the mouth, numbness or loss of feeling, and more. Some people with oral cancer also experience sores in their mouth or difficulty chewing or swallowing.
Symptoms of oral cancer can overlap with many other less serious conditions. However, if you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, it is important to talk to your dentist. Oral cancer is treatable if caught early. Therefore, patients should not delay seeking medical advice if they’ve noticed any of these symptoms.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Men are at a higher risk of oral cancer. Some research indicates they may even be twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women. In addition, those over the age of 50 are at a higher risk. Other risk factors may also increase your chances of developing oral cancer, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, family history of cancer, tobacco use, and more. The risk of oral cancer in Caucasian people is higher as well.
Oral Cancer Diagnosis & Prognosis
With early detection, the prognosis for people diagnosed with oral cancer is promising. The 5-year survival rate is 84%. If oral cancer spreads to nearby tissues or organs, the survival rate drops to 65%. In addition, 1/3 of people treated for oral cancer will eventually develop a new type of cancer.
Regular visits to your dentist can help to ensure oral cancer is detected early. During regular visits to the dentist, your dentist will watch for signs and symptoms of oral cancer. Remember, your dentist knows what to look for and all the early signs. Therefore, patients mustn’t skip out on their regular dental screenings.
Prevention of Oral Cancer
Though cancer has some genetic links, there are also some lifestyle factors and health habits to consider. To prevent oral cancer, general health and wellness practices are important. First, avoid any type of smoking or tobacco use. Consume alcohol carefully and in moderation. Secondly, maintain regular exercise and eat a well-rounded diet. Also, limit your exposure to the sun, as repeated exposure can increase the risk of developing cancer on your lips.
People between the ages of 20 and 40 should have an oral cancer screening at least once every three years. Those over the age of 40 should be examined annually for oral cancer.
Treatment of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can be treated through surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. A combination of treatments may also be used. The type of treatment will vary depending on the type of oral cancer, whether it’s spread to other areas of the body, your age, and other health considerations.
Talk to your Dentist
Concerned about a symptom you’re experiencing in your mouth or lips? Don’t delay seeking medical care. Early diagnosis is critical to help saving your life. In addition, seek help from a trusted medical professional if you’d like to learn more about oral cancer prevention.