Oral cancer is very serious and affects up to tens of thousands of people every year. According to the National Cancer Institute, around 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Unfortunately, these statistics also showed that over 13,000 Americans a year will die from oral cancer.
The good news is that, if oral cancer is detected early enough, the survival rates go up quite dramatically. This is why the Oral Cancer Foundation is trying to spread awareness of oral cancer. Because as serious as this disease is, not many people are talking about it.
The Best Defense Against Oral Cancer
Awareness of oral cancer is important because early detection is such an important part of having a good prognosis. The best defense against oral cancer is prevention, and prevention is only possible once people are aware of the problem and know the risk factors and the symptoms of oral cancer.
Risk Factors & Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Below are a few of the common risk factors and symptoms of oral cancer to be aware of:
Tobacco – Tobacco is the biggest risk factor for oral cancer, even smokeless tobacco can increase your odds of developing the disease.
Alcohol – Alcohol combined with tobacco use will increase the odds of oral cancer.
Poor Oral Hygiene – Those who neglect their oral hygiene are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer.
Sun Exposure – Oral cancer in the lip area is linked to sun exposure.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – HPV is a sexually-transmitted infection that can put people at risk of developing certain cancers, including oral cancer.
Below are a few common symptoms of oral cancer to keep an eye out for:
Different colored patches inside the mouth or lips
Sores in the mouth that will not heal
Bleeding in the mouth that won’t stop easily
Unexplained pain or a hard time swallowing
Lump or bump in the neck
Numbness in the lower lip and chin area
If you are at a higher risk for oral cancer based on the risk factors above, please contact your general dentist for a checkup and an oral cancer screening. The faster you can catch oral cancer, the better the outcome may be.