“Cancer” is perhaps one of the scariest words in the English language. It’s the last diagnosis that we ever hope to hear from our doctor. Unfortunately, though, almost everyone will know someone who suffers from a form of cancer at some point. There are dozens of kinds of cancers and each will present itself differently and carry a different outlook, but early detection is crucial in battling any form of this dangerous disease. Your dentist will look for signs of oral cancers at your routine checkups, but it’s always good to know what you should be mindful of on your own! Today, we’re looking into some of the early signs of oral cancer to keep you on the offensive!
Oral cancers can present themselves anywhere in your mouth, including your lips, gums, tongue, salivary glands, sinuses, pharynx, and larynx. It’s important to know your body and be familiar with what your mouth looks and feels like at its healthiest so you can be aware of changes that occur. Because early detection is so important in treating cancer, visit your dentist if you notice any of the following symptoms for a period of longer than two weeks:
- Any kind of lump, sore, swelling, or abnormal patch of skin anywhere in your mouth or throat
- A feeling as though something is stuck in your throat, like a lump
- White or red sores or lesions in your mouth or on your lips
- Tenderness, pain, or numbness anywhere in your mouth, including your lips and tongue
- Swelling that changes your bite or makes wearing dentures uncomfortable
- Unexplained ear pain that does not impact your ability to hear
- Teeth that have become loose without any obvious reason
- Difficulty maneuvering your mouth to chew, speak, or swallow or general trouble moving the tongue or jaw
- A sore throat that won’t go away
Screening to Be Safe
If you notice any of the above signs and symptoms, it’s important to get in to see your doctor as quickly as possible. He or she will evaluate your unique situation and work with you to form a course of action to diagnose whatever your issue may be. Upon completing a visual evaluation, your dentist may want to do a sample biopsy if they suspect cancer may be present. If your biopsy results come back positive, you may be scheduled for surgery to remove the cancerous cells. Many patients will undergo chemotherapy and radiation after surgery to help their bodies fight off any remaining cancer in the body.
Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to all oral ailments! Maintaining a diligent oral hygiene routine is one of the best ways you can help your body stay healthy and avoid diseases such as cancer. Smoking is also a known cause of oral cancer, so kicking your nicotine habit will help you to toughen up your defenses against this dangerous disease!
If you’re worried you may be showing signs of oral cancer, or if you would like to know more about oral cancer prevention, give us a call at Caputo Dental in Naperville to schedule your next appointment today!