With all the medical progress we have made in cancer treatment, oral cancer is one of the few types that haven’t had a reduced mortality in over 30 years.
In fact, the number of North Americans developing oral cancer today is 3X’s the number that develops cervical cancer.
Oral cancer kills one person every hour, 24 hours a day in the U.S. alone! Of over 34,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only half will be alive in 5 years.
Oral cancer most commonly involves the tissue of the lips or the tongue. It may also occur on the:
- Cheek lining
- Floor of the mouth
- Gums (gingiva)
- Roof of the mouth (palate)
Most oral cancers look very similar under the microscope and are called squamous cell carcinomas. These are cancerous and tend to spread quickly.
Smoking and other tobacco use are linked to 70 – 80% of oral cancer cases. Heavy alcohol use is also associated with an increased risk for oral cancer.
Other factors that may increase the risk for oral cancer include:
- Chronic irritation (such as from rough teeth, dentures, or fillings)
- Human papilloma virus infection
- Poor dental and oral hygiene
Some oral cancers begin as a white plaque (leukoplakia) or as a mouth ulcer.
Oral cancer accounts for about 5% of all cancerous growths. Men get oral cancer twice as often as women do, particularly men older than 40.
Symptoms of oral cancer include mouth sores, lumps, or ulcers that:
- May be a deep, hard-edged crack in the tissue
- Most often pale colored, but may be dark or discolored
- On the tongue, lip, or other area of the mouth
- Usually painless at first (may develop a burning sensation or pain when the tumor is advanced)
Other symptoms of that might indicate oral cancer include:
- Abnormal taste in the mouth
- Chewing problems
- Mouth sores
- Pain with swallowing
- Speech difficulties
- Swallowing difficulty
- Tongue problems
- Weight loss
To help prevent oral cancers, you should be sure to:
- Avoid smoking or other tobacco use
- Have dental problems corrected
- Limit or avoid alcohol use
- Practice good oral hygiene
“What If I Already Suffer From Oral Cancer?”
Approximately half of people with oral cancer will live more than 5 years after they are diagnosed and treated. If the cancer is found early, before it has spread to other tissues, the cure rate is nearly 90%. However, more than half of oral cancers have already spread when the cancer is detected. Most have spread to the throat or neck.
Approximately 25% of people with oral cancer die because of delayed diagnosis and treatment.
We recommend an oral cancer screening be performed twice a year. As part of your dental maintenance visit, this is included and performed on all patients so really all you need to do is make sure to visit our office regularly.
So, if it’s been a while, why not contact our office at (513) 896-1573 to schedule a regular dental checkup,which includes this critical oral cancer screening.