Signs and Symptoms or Oral Cancer
Mouth cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth, including the lips, tongue and throat, as well as the salivary glands, pharynx, larynx and sinuses. And because early detection is crucial in overcoming this disease, you’ll want to visit your doctor immediately if any of the following symptoms persist for more than two weeks:
- Sores, swellings, lumps or thick patches anywhere in or around your mouth or throat
- Areas of red or white lesions in your mouth or lips
- The feeling of a lump or object stuck in your throat
- Swellings that make wearing dentures uncomfortable
- Numbness, pain or tenderness anywhere in your mouth, including your tongue
- Pain in one of your ears but without any loss of hearing
- Trouble moving your jaw or tongue, or problems with chewing, swallowing or speaking
- Loose teeth with no apparent dental cause
- Lingering sore throat or hoarseness
How It Occurs
Although the exact cause of oral cancer is unclear, there are certain lifestyle factors that can put someone at risk for this disease.
- Tobacco of any kind – cigarettes, cigars, pipes and smokeless tobacco – increase your risk for oral cancer.
- Mouth Cancer Foundtion reports 90 percent of those with oral cancer consume tobacco.
- Heavy use of alcohol also increases a person’s chances of developing oral cancer, and the NIDCR says your risk is even higher when using both tobacco and alcohol.
- Eating habits can influence your risk as well. Most oral cancers occur in people over the age of 40, and a diet that is deficient in fruits and vegetables can make it easier to contract.
- Sun exposure can cause cancer on the lips.
Oral Cancer Screening and Treatment
Oral cancer examinations by your dentist are quick, painless and crucial to detecting it in its early stages. The American Dental Associaion explains that during a routine checkup of your teeth and gums, your dentist also visually checks your lips and face for signs of spreading beyond your mouth. He or she may also palpate the neck and jaw area, and examine both the top and underside of your tongue. These oral cancer screenings should be done every six months.