In honor of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to take a minute to discuss this largely undiscussed form of cancer. According to the CDC, there were almost 40,000 new cases of oral cancer in the United States in 2012, and nearly 9,000 deaths as a result. There are many different kinds of oral cancer, including that of the tongue, cheeks, lips, palate, sinuses, and throat. As with most cancers, early detection gives patients the best chance for effective treatment. Therefore, it is important that you and your loved ones are aware of these common symptoms for oral cancer:
1. Speckled patches in the mouth
If you notice any discolored tissue in the mouth or lips, these can be signs of oral cancer. These patches can be white, or white and red mixed together. These red spots are often brightly colored and smooth. If you notice any of these patches, be sure to contact our offices straight away.
2. A sore throat
Oral cancer can manifest as pain in the surrounding areas of your body. So, while sore throats can be symptomatic of a number of ailments, people often experience a sore throat as a result of oral cancer. Therefore, be certain to mention this to your doctor if you’re concerned you may be suffering from oral cancer.
3. A dull, consistent pain in your ears
When it comes to oral cancers, symptoms have a tendency to appear throughout the head, as the system is all interconnected. Therefore, when cancer cells create pressure in the sinuses, this can also manifest as a dull, throbbing pain in your ears.
4. Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking
If you have any swelling of muscles or ligaments as a result of oral cancer, perhaps the most noticeable symptom may be its impact on your speech or chewing/swallowing mechanisms. If you have any difficulties with these processes at all, it is important to seek medical care.
5. Changes in the shapes and sizes of your oral structures.
If you notice swelling, bumps, rough patches or erosion on your lips, gums, or other parts of the mouth, this could be a symptom of oral cancer. These changes in appearance can vary by the individual as well as the type of cancer, so be certain to visit a doctor if you’re at all uncertain.
6. Numbness or pain
Because the oral cavity and other parts of the ear, nose, and throat are all interconnected, you may experience numbness or pain as a result of oral cancer. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you visit a medical professional if you lose feeling in the mouth or face, as this may mean that cancer cells could be impacting the nerves to that region.
The best way to ensure that you do not have oral cancer is to pay a visit to your dentist for a routine check-up. So whether you are exhibiting any of these symptoms or you would just like to have a preventative oral exam to ensure you’re healthy, contact Caputo Dental today.