This April is the 19th annual Oral Cancer Awareness Month, founded by the Oral Cancer Foundation. During the month of April, dentists and doctors encourage everyone to check their mouths for signs of cancer. Oral cancers have a higher death rate than other forms of cancer because they are often not detected until it has already progressed to a deadly stage. But if it is caught early, the patient will have a better chance of survival with treatment.
Each year, over 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with some form of oral cancer, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. Oral cancer originates in the cells lining the lips, tongue, gums, and mouth. So, a patient could have cancer on the floor of their mouth (under the tongue), in their gums, on the hard palate, in the inner cheek, tongue, or lips.
Signs of Oral Cancer
There are certain signs to look out for when evaluating your own mouth for cancer. Warning signs include:
- Persistent sores or ulcers that last longer than two weeks
- Black, white, or red discoloration in the mouth
- A hard lump on the ridge of the tongue
- A growth on the lips, inner cheek, or tissues of the mouth
- A hard lump felt below the surface of your neck
Your dentist may also check for abnormal areas that may indicate cancer, as part of your routine dental exam.
Groups at Higher Risk
Certain members of the population are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer. People who use tobacco frequently, such as chewing tobacco or snuff, may be more likely to develop cancer of the gums and lips. People who inhale secondhand smoke are also at a greater risk of developing oral cancer. Additionally, those who consume more than 21 alcoholic beverages per week are at a higher risk. A person who smokes and drinks heavily is six times more likely to develop oral cancer than a person who does neither.
Research has also found a link between the human papillomavirus and the development of certain oral cancers. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, about 1 percent of people who develop a high-risk cancer HPV (such as HPV-16) will develop oral cancer.
Contact Babylon Dental Care
If you are concerned that you may have some symptoms of oral cancer, make an appointment with a Babylon Dental Care expert today. Our team of dentists can help you detect potential signs of oral cancer so that you can get the treatment you need. Please give us a call at (631) 983-6665 to schedule your appointment.