April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and at Charleston Oral and Facial Surgery, we take that seriously.
This disease affects 53,000 people each year in the United States and kills one person per hour, every day. The mortality rate of cancer of the mouth is particularly high because it is often not caught in the early stages. Know the signs and symptoms and preventative methods to keep oral cancer from striking you.
Signs and Symptoms
Some of the most common signs of oral cancer include lumps, bumps or rough spots on the lips or gums along with the development of white, red or speckled patches in the mouth. You may also experience unexplained numbness or tenderness in your mouth, face or neck. Other symptoms of oral cancer include sores in the mouth and a feeling that something is caught in the back of your throat. Finally, difficulty swallowing, a sore throat, hoarseness or a change in voice are other tell-tale signs.
Are you in danger of developing oral cancer? A few things up the probability of developing this disease. First, tobacco use of any kind — cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff — increases the likelihood of developing oral cancer. Excessive alcohol drinking also may lead to the onset of mouth cancer as does coming in contact with HPV, the human papillomavirus. A bad diet, weakened immune system and poor oral hygiene all can increase the risk as well.
The best way to prevent oral cancer is to do self-checks and have your dentist or oral and facial surgeon perform a check regularly. When doing your own examinations, be on the lookout for discolored patches, lumps and bumps in your mouth and on your tongue, along with thickening tissues and sores that do not heal quickly. Take note of any changes in your voice as well as chewing or swallowing. Lastly, be careful of smoking, excessive drinking and poor oral health — improving your lifestyle habits may be the difference in warding off this silent killer.
If you have any of the signs or symptoms, make an appointment today to get a professional screening.
Learn more at oralcancer.org.