April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month!

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Every year, approximately 45,750 people will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer. Statistically, it kills one person every hour and more than 115 individuals will be diagnosed with it each day. With routine screenings, however, oral cancer can be detected and treated early. In the early stages of oral cancer, symptoms can often go unnoticed by patients, as it may not produce significant pain or discomfort. Demographically speaking, the most at risk population includes young and otherwise healthy, non-smoking adults.
That is not to say that smokers or heavy drinkers are not at risk for Oral Cancer; they are. Another significant cause of oral cancer is Human Papilloma Virus or HPV. HPV is harder to detect in individuals because the disease does not immediately present with obvious symptoms. The best detection method is through an 8-step tactile and visual exam performed by your dentist. Any sores that last for two or more weeks should be examined by a dental professional. 

For those individuals who do present with oral cancer symptoms, listed below are some signs compiled by WebMD. HOWEVER, if you have any of the below symptoms, please visit our office(s) where one of our dental professionals can make an official diagnosis.

  • Red, white, or black discoloration on the soft tissues
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Sensation that things are sticking to the throat when swallowing
  • Swollen, but painless tonsil
  • Pain when chewing
  • Persistent sore throat or hoarse voice
  • Swelling or lump in the mouth
  • Painless lump felt on the outside of the neck (which has been there for at least 2 weeks)
  • Numb feeling in the mouth or lips
  • An ear ache on one side
  • Constant coughing (Friedman, “Oral Care”, 2015)

Works Cited

Friedman, Michael, DDS. “Oral Cancer.” Oral Care. WebMD, 17 Dec. 2015. Web. 1 Feb. 2016.