April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and is working with health care providers around the country to educate people about the causes of this terrible disease and how everyone can lower their risk of contracting it. Approximately 35,000 people will be diagnosed with some form of oral cancer this year, and there are many kinds that can affect people.
“Oral cancer” includes the classifications of mouth cancer, tongue cancer, tonsil cancer, throat cancer, and others. Unfortunately, unlike other cancers, its prevalence is not decreasing in our population, but increasing. Dr. Postol wants to change that for everyone in the Ballwin, MO area, and help us all live long, healthy lives.
This post is not meant to diagnose or treat anyone who has, or believes they may have, oral cancer. It is merely meant to serve as information. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our office to learn more.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Because oral cancer comes in so many varieties, there is a wide range of symptoms, and it is impossible to list them all here. However, some of the more common symptoms include:
- White or red patches on your lips, gums, tongue, or inside your cheeks
- Numbness or loss of feeling anywhere around your face, mouth or neck
- Sores on your face, neck or mouth that bleed and refuse to heal
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
- Swelling, lumps, or bumps on your lips, gums, tongue, or inside your cheeks
- Sore throat, or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
- A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
- Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or a change in your voice
- Ear pain
- Dramatic weight loss
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
There are many risk factors for oral cancer, but they don’t always determine who contracts the disease. Someone could have all of the risk factors and never get sick, while someone else could have no risk factors and unfortunately still be diagnosed with some form of oral cancer.
That being said, risk factors can still be helpful in determining who should alert Dr. Postol to help keep an extra eye out for symptoms. Risk factors for oral cancer include:
- Tobacco use, whether through smoking, dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Family history of cancer
- Excessive sun exposure
- Exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV), also known as genital warts
Oral Cancer Treatment
If you think you or someone you love may have oral cancer, please contact St. Louis Dental today. We will schedule an appointment for a quick, evaluation that will help you understand your specific situation.
If any of these symptoms or risk factors apply to you, don’t hesitate. The best chance you have at beating this disease is to catch it early and start treatment as quickly as possible. Oral cancer has encouragingly high survival rates if detected early, so make an appointment today.