Oral cancer facts

While there are many diseases that manifest themselves in and round the oral cavity, the most dangerous is oral cancer.

  1. Oral cancer is characterized by any malignancy that appears in or around the oral cavity.   It can include cancers of the lip, tongue, oral mucosa, throat or hard and soft palate.
  2. Your dentist should complete oral cancer screenings at each checkup, but it is imperative to inform him/her of any abnormal growth, color change or nondescript pain which may occur.
  3. There are several risk factors that put people at risk for developing this specific type of cancer. Tobacco use, alcohol use, poor nutrition, overexposure to ultraviolet light, age and having HPV or the human papillomavirus are significant risk factors in developing oral cancer. If you have any of these conditions or if you are a frequent/heavy tobacco or alcohol user, it is important that you seek frequent screenings.
  4. According to studies, roughly 43,250 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer on a yearly basis. This particular cancer causes roughly 8,000 deaths per year.
  5. Two of the most common symptoms or signs associated with oral cancer include a sore in your mouth that does not heal or a pain in your mouth that does not go away. A typical mouth sore will generally heal within a week to 10 days.  Any long lasting sore which does not disappear should be evaluated by your dentist.
  6. Other symptoms include persistent lump or thickening of the cheek, a persistent sore throat, a white or red patch on the gums or inside of the mouth that does not go away, difficulty swallowing, difficulty chewing, difficulty speaking, swelling of the jaw, numbness of the tongue or any other area of the mouth, loosening teeth or pain around the jaw, changes in your voice, a lump or swelling of the neck, unexplained weight loss and persistent bad breath.
  7. Treatment for oral cancer is usually multidisciplinary. Even though your dentist may be the specialist who spots any instances of oral cancer or is the person you go to for a screening and diagnosis, the overall treatment process will likely include a wide range of other specialists as well such as surgeons, radiation oncologists, chemotherapy oncologists, nutritionists as well as rehabilitation and restorative specialists.