According to the National Cancer Institute, around 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral 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 the survival rates go up significantly if oral cancer is detected early enough. Despite the seriousness of oral cancer, many people aren’t aware of the signs and symptoms that could tip them off to something being wrong.
Read on to discover how you can spot oral cancer symptoms and what measures you can take to prevent oral cancer.
The Best Defense Against Oral Cancer
Early detection is key to having the best prognosis possible when it comes to oral cancer. That’s why keeping up with regular dental cleanings and checkups is important.
But as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The same is true for oral cancer. The best defense against oral cancer is prevention, and prevention is only possible once people are aware of the problem and know the oral cancer symptoms and risk factors.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Certain lifestyle choices and infectious diseases can increase your risk of oral cancer. Knowing these risk factors and making appropriate changes can significantly lower your chance of developing oral cancer.
- Tobacco: Tobacco is the biggest risk factor for oral cancer, even smokeless tobacco can increase your odds of developing the disease. Eliminating smoking and the use of tobacco products can be difficult, but it’s truly the best way to prevent oral cancer and several other health conditions.
- Alcohol: Alcohol in moderation won’t impact your oral cancer risk, but when it’s combined with tobacco use, your odds of developing oral cancer will increase.
Poor oral hygiene: Dentists stress the importance of brushing and flossing for a reason. When you fail to brush and floss your teeth twice daily, you put yourself at risk of oral cancer.
- Sun exposure: We usually associate sun exposure to skin cancer, harmful UV rays can lead to oral cancer on the lips. Be sure to apply sunscreen everyday, and don’t forget to add chapstick with SPF.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV): HPV is a sexually-transmitted infection that can put people at risk of developing certain cancers, including oral cancer. The HPV vaccine is an excellent way to decrease your chances of contracting HPV. Discuss your vaccination options with your primary care physician to learn of the vaccine is right for you.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
You are your own best advocate when it comes to your health. Your dentist will assess your risk of oral cancer at your regular checkups and exams, but be sure to consult with your general dentist if you experience any of the following oral cancer symptoms:
- 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
- Loosened teeth
- Unexplained pain or a hard time swallowing
- Lump or bump in the neck
- Numbness in the lower lip and chin area
Certain risk factors –– like the lifestyle choices listed above as well as family history –– will put you at higher risk for oral cancer. Talk to your general dentist about additional oral cancer screenings to be as proactive as possible. The faster you can catch oral cancer, the better the outcome may be!
Here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado, we believe that everyone is entitled to a healthy, beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime. Our team of doctors specializes in restoring our patients’ smiles and relieving their pain. With office locations in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, convenient care is just a phone call away. Contact us today to schedule your evaluation!