Every April is recognized as Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Oral cancer is one type of cancer that can be difficult to diagnose, especially in the first stages. However, oral cancer can often be treated successfully if it’s caught early. This is why your dentist in Bakersfield puts so much emphasis on making sure our patients know the warning signs of mouth cancer and how important it is to seek care quickly.
Signs of Oral Cancer
Even though oral cancer can be treated, it is cancer and it does take the lives of many Americans every year. An early diagnosis and treatment can increase survival rates. However, some signs of oral cancer can mimic other non-serious oral health concerns. Your dentist in Bakersfield always recommends that if you notice any signs of oral cancer, it’s always best to schedule a checkup. Some signs of mouth cancer include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Changes in voice
- An earache on one side
- Swollen tonsil on one side without pain
- A painless lump on the outside of the neck
- A hard lump in the soft tissues
- Chronic cough
- Any sore that doesn’t heal itself within 2 weeks
- Discoloration in the mouth including a red, white, or black appearance
Check Your Mouth
Seeing your dentist in Bakersfield is the best way to get checked for oral cancer. However, you should actively pay attention to what’s going on inside your mouth in-between visits. In fact, the Oral Cancer Foundation, along with other professional dental organizations, fund a website that details how you can Check Your Mouth for oral cancer.
It’s important to know that oral cancer can happen to anyone, but there are some risk factors that increase someone’s chance of developing oral cancer, such as:
- Tobacco Use: 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users including those who smoke cigarettes, cigars, or use smokeless tobacco.
- Drinking Alcohol: Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
- Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
- Age: Those over the age of 50 are at increased risk of oral cancer.