Over 50,000 people a year are diagnosed with oral cancer so staying vigilant in the fight against oral cancer is key to preventing it. Oral Cancer Awareness Month is recognized every April, but that’s not the only time we should be thinking about this deadly disease. Learn the facts about oral cancer with the dental office of Dr. John C. Cranham in Chesapeake, VA where we are dedicated to helping patients maintain healthy, beautiful smiles.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Any cancer occurring in the mouth, throat, tongue, lips, or tonsils is considered to be oral cancer. This occurrence of this disease has on the rise in the United States and is responsible for over 330,000 deaths worldwide every year.
You’re probably familiar with tobacco use as one of the primary causes of oral cancer. Chewing tobacco, smoking, and the use of other tobacco products have long been associated with oral cancer, as well as cancer of the lungs and more. However, you may be shocked to learn that HPV-16 (human papillomavirus), the same virus responsible for cervical cancer in women, is also a cause of oral cancer in both men and women.
Oral Cancer Signs and Symptoms: When to See A Dentist
Dentists are passionate about education for patients on the signs and symptoms of oral cancer, and not just for their patients who smoke. Many patients are at risk for this disease and need to be aware of potential warning signs, which include:
- Sores in the mouth that do not heal after 2 weeks
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Eroded areas on the lips or inside the mouth
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw
- Swelling, bumps, rough spots, or patches inside the mouth or on the lips
Early detection and treatment are the key to successfully overcoming many diseases, including oral cancer. When detected early, survival rates are much higher and can be managed with minimally-invasive treatments.
Talk to your medical doctor about the HPV vaccine to protect yourself against HPV-16 infection, which is linked to oral cancer. Inform your dentist if you suspect you have been exposed to HPV so they can examine your mouth, throat, and neck for signs of HPV-16.
Preventing Oral Health Problems By Screening Early and Often
Every dental check-up with Dr. Cranham includes a screening for oral cancer. Our team examines the mouth, throat, and neck for signs of oral cancer, and we also compile patient history to determine any risk factors. An oral cancer screening is quick and painless, so be sure to stay current with your 6-month check-ups and talk to Dr. Cranham or your area dentist if you find any symptoms. Schedule your appointment online with Dr. Cranham today or call our office at 757.656.4109.