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Oral Cancer Awareness: Signs, Symptoms, and Early Detection

April 4, 2024 / DENTISTRY

In the realm of dental health, discussions often revolve around cavities, gum disease, or the merits of fluoride. However, one crucial topic that deserves more attention is oral cancer. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month making it the perfect time to shed light on this often overlooked but potentially life-threatening condition.

Understanding Oral Cancer: Oral cancer refers to cancer that develops in the mouth or throat tissues, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat. Like any form of cancer, early detection is key to successful treatment and improved prognosis. Unfortunately, oral cancer can often go unnoticed in its initial stages, making awareness and regular screenings imperative.

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms: One of the most significant challenges with oral cancer is that it can manifest in various ways, sometimes resembling common oral issues. However, being vigilant about changes in the oral cavity can aid in early detection. Some signs and symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Persistent mouth sores or ulcers that do not heal within two weeks.
  • Red or white patches in the mouth.
  • Unexplained bleeding or numbness in the mouth.
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or moving the jaw or tongue.
  • Persistent sore throat or hoarseness.
  • Swelling or lumps in the mouth or neck.

Risk Factors: Certain factors increase the likelihood of developing oral cancer, including tobacco use (smoking or chewing), excessive alcohol consumption, prolonged sun exposure (which can lead to lip cancer), a history of oral cancer, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. While some risk factors, such as genetics, cannot be controlled, adopting a healthy lifestyle and attending regular dental checkups can help mitigate the risk.

The Importance of Early Detection: Routine dental visits play a crucial role in the early detection of oral cancer. During these visits, our dental team will perform a thorough examination of your oral cavity, checking for any abnormalities or suspicious lesions. Additionally, if you notice any of the aforementioned signs or symptoms between appointments, it is essential to seek prompt evaluation from our dental team or healthcare provider.

This Oral Cancer Awareness Month, take a proactive step towards safeguarding your oral health. If you have concerns about oral cancer or if it's been more than six months since your last dental checkup, schedule an appointment with us, by calling (519) 664-24234. Together, we can prioritize your oral health and work towards early detection and prevention of oral cancer. Don't wait until it's too late—your health is worth it.

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