Oral cancer is a serious medical condition that affects millions of people each year. It can be difficult to detect in the early stages, which is why regular exams of the oral cavity are so important for prevention and early detection.
Having an oral cancer screening done on a regular basis can help catch any potential signs or symptoms before it has a chance to spread and become more difficult to treat. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of oral cancer screenings as well as tips for prevention and early detection.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is a type of cancer that affects the tissues and cells of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums, lining of the cheeks, and throat. It can also occur in other areas of the head and neck region, such as salivary glands, tonsils, and lymph nodes.
Why Is Oral Cancer Screening Important?
Regular oral cancer screenings are important because they can help catch any potential signs of the disease in its early stages. Early detection is key to successful treatment and higher survival rates. Oral cancer screenings allow your dentist or doctor to look for any changes in the mouth, such as a premalignant lesion that could indicate something more serious.
Statistics and Facts About Oral Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 54,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer each year. This number accounts for roughly 3% of all new cancer cases in the United States. Oral cancer is more than twice as common in men as it is in women and affects those over the age of 40 most often.
Risk Factors Associated With Oral Cancer
You may be at a greater risk for developing oral cancer if you have any of the following:
- A family history of oral cancer or a personal history of cancer
- Use tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Recent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
- High exposure to the sun
- Poor nutrition
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, it is important to contact your dentist or doctor right away:
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Persistent sores on the lips, tongue, or inside the mouth that don’t heal
- White patches (leukoplakia) inside the mouth or on the lips
- Red patches (erythroplakia) inside the mouth or on the lips
- Unusual lumps or growths in the mouth
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the tongue and jaw
What To Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening Exam
Oral cancer screenings are quick and painless exams. The exam typically includes a visual inspection of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums, lining of the cheeks, and throat. Your dentist or hygienist may also feel for any lumps or other abnormalities in these areas. In some cases, additional tests such as biopsies may be done to further investigate any suspicious lesions.
Tips for Prevention and Early Detection of Oral Cancer
Here are a few tips to help you lower your risk of developing oral cancer.
- Refrain from using tobacco products
- Limit the amount of alcohol you consume
- Practice safe sex to reduce your risk of HPV
- Wear sunblock when outdoors
- Eat a healthy diet
- Have regular checkups with your dentist or doctor, including an oral cancer screening
Following these tips can help reduce your risk of developing oral cancer and increase the chances of early detection. Oral cancer screenings are an important part of maintaining your overall health and should not be overlooked.
Take Action Now to Prevent and Detect Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can be a scary and life-threatening disease. But with early detection, treatment is more successful, and survival rates are much higher. So take the time now to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer, and don’t forget to schedule regular visits with your dentist or doctor for an oral cancer screening. It could save your life.
If you think you may be at risk for oral cancer, contact Foley & Le Oral Surgeons to schedule a consultation. Dr. Benjamin Foley, Dr. Thao Le, and Dr. Dan Foley are here to help you take the necessary steps to protect your health and detect any potential problems early. Schedule an appointment today!
We are here for you if you’re searching for an oral surgeon in Boulder, CO, or an oral surgeon near me. Call us at (303) 444-2255 or complete the online booking form for a free consultation.