Signs That You May Have Oral Cancer
Every year, close to 53,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer. Killing roughly one person per hour and 24 people a day, this form of cancer can be developed by anyone, although there are a number of risk factors that can increase its chances of occurence. Accordingly, it’s important to understand both these risk factors as well as the condition's general warning signs so that you can visit our Mount Airy, NC, dentists, Drs. Bennett and Lynette Smith, if you suspect anything.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
The risk of oral cancer increases with age; however, it is also possible for people to develop oral cancer under 55 years old. Additionally, men are also twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer.
Other risk factors include,
- Tobacco use
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Exposure to sunlight or UV light (e.g. tanning beds)
- Poor nutrition
- Certain genetic syndromes (E.g. Fanconi anemia)
- A suppressed immune system
- Lichen planus (an itchy rash in the mouth and throat)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
It’s important to be on the lookout for any changes that could be early signs of oral cancer, particularly if you are an increased risk. Common symptoms include,
- Mouth sores that don’t go away
- Bad breath
- Red or white patches on the oral tissue
- A lump or sore in the mouth
- Tongue pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Numbness in the mouth
As you can see, these symptoms also have other causes (many of which are completely harmless); therefore, experiencing one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that you have oral cancer. That being said, it’s important to play it safe and give our Mount Airy office a call if you notice mouth sores or any of the other listed problems. A simple examination is usually all a dentist needs to be able to determine the cause or to decide whether the problem requires further testing.
Preventing Oral Cancer
Along with certain lifestyle modifications (e.g. eating healthy and quitting smoking), it’s important that you also visit your Mouth Airy, NC, general dentist every six months for checkups and cleanings. During these routine checkups, our hygienist will perform a quick, painless oral cancer screening to check for lesions, lumps, growths, and other early warning signs. This screening only takes a minute and it could just end up saving your life!
Concerned? Give Us a Call
Here at Blue Ridge Dental in Mount Airy, NC, we want everyone who walks through our doors to get the proper dental care they need. Whether you need to schedule a routine dental cleaning or you have questions about any of the cosmetic or restorative dentistry procedures that we offer, call us today at (336) 789-5306 to learn more.