Did you know April is Oral Cancer Awareness month? About 53,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer and nearly 10,860 people die annually. It is twice as common in men as women. Oral cancer can affect any part of the oral cavity. Which is the lip, tongue, mouth, and throat. Through visual inspection, your dentist can detect abnormalities at an early stage resulting in less extensive and more successful treatment.
5 Myths and The Actual Facts
- Oral Cancer is rare.
Fact: More people are diagnosed with oral cancer than stomach cancer.
- I’m too young to get oral cancer.
Fact: It’s now more common for our younger patients to develop oral cancer because of the link to human papillomavirus (HPV.)
- I don’t smoke so I can’t get oral cancer.
Fact: Smoking does increase your risk for oral cancer but it isn’t the only factor. Drinking alcohol, HPV, and genetics play a role in developing the disease.
- No pain, no problem.
Fact: Not all cancer spots can cause pain.
- I will know when I have oral cancer.
Fact: It’s not easy to identify, it can go undetected in your tonsils, lymph nodes, and the base of your tongue.
The exact cause of oral cancer is unknown, but here are some things that can put people more at risk.
- Tobacco of any form – cigarettes/ e-cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco.
- Excessive sun exposure on your lips
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Weakened immune system
Signs and Symptoms or Oral Cancer
- Mouth sore that doesn’t heal
- White or red patches in your mouth
- Chronic sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing and moving the jaw and tongue
- Jaw swelling
- Lump in the neck
- Constant bad breath
A lot of these signs and symptoms can be caused by other things, schedule an appointment if any of these conditions go on for more than two weeks.
Stop using tobacco or don’t start. It exposes the cells in your mouth to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals. Drink alcohol in moderation. Excessive alcohol can aggravate cells and make them more susceptible to cancer.
Protect your lips from the sun! Constant exposure increases the risk of cancer. Be sure to use chapstick with SPF!
Last but not least, see your dentist regularly! It’s recommended to have an exam and cleaning every six months. Schedule yours today!
Dr. Dhariwal, DDS
2370 Maritime Dr.
Elk Grove, CA 95758