STAYING INFORMED ABOUT the symptoms and risk factors of oral cancer is incredibly important. As your South San Francisco dentists we are on the front lines of the battle against oral cancer, and we want to recruit our patients to fight with us. Read on to learn about the risks and symptoms of oral cancer, and how your regular exam is an important way to detect oral cancer early.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
By far the biggest risk factor is tobacco use. Another is frequent, heavy alcohol consumption. Oral cancer affects twice as many men as women and people over age 45 are at greater risk. Other risk factors include too much sun (which can cause lip cancer), HPV, and neglecting oral hygiene. Children are less at risk, but that can change if they start using tobacco — just one more reason why parents should discourage their kids from smoking or vaping.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer symptoms include:
Red or white patches in the mouth
A sore that doesn’t heal
Strange thickness in the cheek
An unusual lump
Numbness of the mouth or tongue
A persistent feeling of having something stuck in the throat
Chronic bad breath
Difficulty chewing or swallowing
Your Dentist Can Help
The great news is that survival rates for oropharyngeal cancers have been increasing for the last 30 years. The way we continue that trend is with awareness and early detection. The first person to spot early signs of oral cancer is often the dentist during a routine dental exam! Your dentist looks over the inside of your mouth to check for red or white patches or mouth sores. Using gloved hands, your dentist also feels the tissues in your mouth to check for lumps or other abnormalities. They may also examine your throat and neck for lumps.
Just one more important reasons to come to your regular check-ups and cleanings. If it's been more than 6 months since your last visit, schedule your next appointment today! It's easy! You can request an appointment online or give us a call or text at (650) 871-1400.