In our last post, we provided some updated facts and statistics about oral cancer as part of our support of National Oral Cancer Awareness Month. In this post, we’ll extend the conversation by detailing some of the most common symptoms of the disease and some of the best-known ways to avoid it.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) says a sore in the mouth that doesn’t heal and pain the mouth that won’t go away are the most common symptoms of oral and oropharyngeal cancers. In addition, it recommends that someone suffering from any of the following symptoms for 2 weeks or more should see a dentist and/or a doctor:
- A lump or thickening in the cheek
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
- A sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat that doesn’t go away
- Trouble chewing or swallowing
- Trouble moving the jaw or tongue
- Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth
- Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable
- Loosening of the teeth or pain around the teeth or jaw
- Voice changes
- A lump or mass in the neck
- Weight loss
- Constant bad breath
The best way to prevent the onset of oral cancer is to reduce exposure to risk factors. The ACS and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommend:
- Limiting drinking and smoking: stopping altogether is the best way to eliminate this risk. The NCI says the risk of oral cancer is about twice as high in people who have 3 to 4 alcoholic drinks per day compared to those who don’t drink alcohol.
- Avoid the HPV infection: In recent years, some vaccines have proven to reduce the risk of certain HPV infections.
- Limit Exposure to Ultraviolet Light: Wearing a wide brimmed hat and using lip balm can help reduce the risk of lip, skin, and oral cancers.
- Wearing Properly Fitted Dentures: Some studies have shown that avoiding oral irritation can help lower the risk for oral cancer.
- Eating a Healthy Diet: The Oral Cancer Foundation says a rapidly growing number of published studies show that certain groups of food components seem to help prevent cancer and sometimes even assist the body in fighting the disease if you already have cancer.
While following these recommendations will help, it should be noted that 25% of oral cancer patients had no known risk factors at the time they were diagnosed, according to American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
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We are here to help people in the Jacksonville community who are worried about this disease. Regular visits to our office can improve the chances that any suspicious changes in your oral health will be caught early, at a time when cancer can be treated more easily. Caught before oral cancer spreads anywhere, a patient’s survival rate is above 80%.
So, contact our office if you’d like to schedule a screening or if you have questions. We’ll be happy to help advance the fight and help save as many people as we can from this deadly disease.