Few words can strike fear in one’s heart like cancer. And while it is not pleasant to think about such a destructive, deadly condition, it must be noted that early detection can greatly improve treatment outcomes. Not everyone is aware of oral cancer to the same degree that they are of skin cancer, testicular cancer, and cervical cancer. This is particularly troubling because oral cancer has a higher death rate than both.
What is oral cancer?
We define oral cancer as one that originates in the mouth and continues to develop there as well. This includes cancer of the lips, throat, cheek, tongue, and either the hard or soft palate. Without early detection and treatment, oral cancer is likely to spread to the lymph nodes. Squamous cell carcinoma makes up the largest volume of oral cancer cases; this means that it affects the epithelial cells.
Am I at risk for oral cancer?
Although nobody is entirely safe from oral cancer, men face a higher risk than females—twice as high, actually. This can be attributed to the leading causes of oral cancer, especially smoking tobacco, which are more prevalent in men. Age-wise, older adults and those in middle adulthood have a greater chance of developing oral cancer. Excessive alcohol consumption also increases oral cancer risk.
What symptoms should I be aware of?
We cannot stress enough the importance of scheduling a dental exam once a year. During this time, we will carefully examine your mouth to look for possible signs of oral cancer. However, many of the early symptoms of the disease are painless and are easily overlooked. Some of the most frequently reported symptoms include:
• Frequent sores in the mouth that last 2 weeks or longer
• Numbness in the face or mouth area
• Chronic sore throat
• Unusual changes in your voice, especially hoarseness
• Oral bleeding that does not seem to have a cause
• Red or white patches within the mouth
- About Your San Fernando Valley Dentists
To learn more about oral cancer screening and preventive dentistry at A New Smile Dental Group, contact us at (818) 897-5771. Our San Fernando Valley location serves patients living in Pacoima, Granada Hills, Van Nuys, Sherman Oaks, and the surrounding communities.