The Signs And Symptoms Of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is marked by the abnormal growth of cells in the mouth, lips, tongue, or throat. Early detection greatly enhances the prospects of successful treatment. While those aged 45 and above are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer, it is advisable for individuals of all ages to undergo oral cancer screening if they exhibit any of the following symptoms:
- Presence of discolored patches in the mouth or on the lips, which may appear either white or dark red.
- Discovery of unfamiliar lumps or unusual changes in texture within the oral region.
- Persistent canker sores that do not heal, numb patches, or continual bleeding.
- Unusual sensations in the tongue, alterations in taste perception, or difficulties with swallowing.
Risk factors associated with oral cancer encompass:
- Smoking or the use of tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco.
- Heavy or moderate alcohol consumption, especially when coupled with tobacco usage.
- Potential exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in the oral area.
- Excessive sun exposure, particularly among individuals with a sun-intensive lifestyle.
- Poor dietary habits or unhealthy eating patterns.
- A family history of oral cancer.
- A higher prevalence of oral cancer among men than women.
- A history of leukoplakia, characterized by thick, whitish patches forming inside the mouth.
Prevention, Detection And Treatment Of Oral Cancer
The treatment approach will be individually tailored and primarily determined by the suspected cancer’s severity, type, and specific location.
Spotting early signs of cancer
The objective of an oral cancer screening is to promptly identify cancer or precancerous conditions within your oral cavity. During this examination, your dentist will carefully inspect the interior of your mouth, including under your tongue, in search of any unusual red or white patches or suspicious sores. Additionally, your dentist will palpate the tissues within your mouth to detect any abnormalities like lumps or unusual textures. They may also assess your throat and neck exterior for the presence of any lumps or irregularities.
Diagnosis and treatment
In the event that your oral screening reveals indications of cancer, you might be requested to undergo further assessments, including a biopsy (which involves the removal of a small piece of the suspicious tissue for laboratory analysis) or imaging procedures like X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, or MRI scans. In cases where confirmed tumors are found, treatment options may include surgical procedures, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy to address the condition.
Prevention of oral cancer
To reduce the risk of oral cancer in the future, it’s essential to take proactive steps now. This includes scheduling regular dental check-ups for routine examinations, quitting the use of tobacco products, practicing responsible alcohol consumption, being mindful of direct sunlight exposure and using UV-protective lip balms, maintaining a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, and during your daily brushing and flossing routine, remember to inspect your mouth for any signs or symptoms, promptly reporting any concerns to your dentist. These preventive measures can significantly contribute to reducing the risk of oral cancer down the road.
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to schedule an initial consultation & exam.
Your consultation will include an examination of everything from your teeth, gums and soft tissues to the shape and condition of your bite. Generally, we want to see how your whole mouth looks and functions. Before we plan your treatment we want to know everything about the health and aesthetic of your smile, and, most importantly, what you want to achieve so we can help you get there.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you possess any risk factors for oral cancer, it’s advisable to request an oral cancer screening during your routine dental check-up. Should you notice any abnormally colored or textured patches in your mouth, or come across a lump or questionable sore, we strongly encourage you to promptly schedule an appointment for a thorough examination.
Your dentist will examine your lips and the inside of your mouth including your cheeks, gums and all sides of your tongue. They will also carefully feel around for any lumps or unusual textures. The dentist may also feel your face, jaw, throat and neck for unusual lumps or tenderness.
Wash your hands with warm soapy water. In front of your bathroom mirror, you’ll want to examine the roof of your mouth, your lips, tongue and gums. Pull your top lip up and bottom lip down to see behind them. You may use a piece of gauze or a cotton pad to help you grip your tongue to check the sides and underside. Do your best to look at your gums, and use your fingers to feel the insides of your mouth. You’re looking and feeling for color changes, lumps and bumps, unusual textures or tenderness. Let your dentist know if you have any sores that have not healed after two weeks.
These are typically small, painless, flat patches that may exhibit colors like red, white, gray, or yellow, often with red edges. These patches can manifest in various regions of the mouth, including the lips, gums, cheeks, tongue, and the palate. As a general guideline, it’s advisable to have anything that appears or feels unusual examined by your physician or dentist.
The most common spot for oral cancer is lateral border of the tongue.