Oral cancer can be scary and overwhelming, but understanding the signs of this disease and how to keep yourself safe can go a long way in ensuring that you remain healthy and strong. In this blog post, our team at Northern Horizon Dental Barrie tells you everything you need to know about oral cancer.
Who is at Risk for Oral Cancer?
There are a couple of things that increase your risk factor for oral cancer, including:
- Excessive alcohol use
- Tobacco use
- Your age- most patients diagnosed with oral cancer are older than 40
- Diet- the foods that you eat play a large role, and a diet that is low in fruits and vegetables can increase your risk of developing oral cancer
- HPV has been linked to oral cancers
- The good news is that most of these risks are under your control, so you can make good decisions for your health, such as eating right and steering clear of tobacco.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
Knowing the symptoms is important, but only if you know where to look for them. Oral cancer usually shows up in the mouth and back of the throat. Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Difficulty swallowing and chewing
- A red or white patch on the tongue or the floor of your mouth that doesn’t go away
- A firm lump in your neck or jaw
- Challenges moving your tongue or mouth
- Sudden change in speech
- An irritated sore area that does not subside
If you notice any of the above and the symptoms last longer than two weeks, it is a good idea to visit a dentist near you for further diagnostics concerning oral cancer.
What is Oral Cancer Screening?
When you visit a dentist concerned about oral cancer in Barrie, your dentist will perform an oral cancer screening. This involves your dentist performing a visual scan of your lips, tongue, face, neck, throat, and floor of your mouth.
If your dentist in Barrie notices a spot of concern, they will refer you to an oral surgeon. An oral surgeon will often examine the area, remove a small sample, and send it to a lab where it will be tested for cancerous or precancerous cells.
Can Oral Cancer Be Cured?
If you find out that you have oral cancer and must start treatment for oral cancer near you, try not to panic. Just like other kinds of cancer, oral cancer can be treated if caught early. Treatment may involve a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
Finding cancer at a later stage makes it more challenging to treat. Often, oral cancer isn’t found until it has reached other areas of the body, which is why it is so important to understand the warning signs of oral cancer.
The Bottom Line
While rare, oral cancer can be a severe and life-threatening condition if not caught on time. That is why it is so important to visit your dentist at least once every six months for a checkup and oral cancer screening. If caught early, oral cancer can be treated and cured successfully. If you notice any abnormalities in your mouth or throat, be sure to book an appointment with your dentist today.