What Are Some Common Signs of Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer includes cancers of the mouth as well as the back of the throat. Oral cancers develop on the tongue, at the base of the tongue and on the tissue lining the gums and mouth. They also develop under the tongue and in the area of the throat at the back of the mouth. Oral cancer can be life-threatening. It is very important for oral cancer to be diagnosed and treated early. You should be on the lookout for signs and symptoms so that you can bring them to the attention of your dentist as soon as possible.
Oral cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers that are diagnosed each year in the United States or about 49,700 new cases every year. Oral cancer usually occurs in individuals over the age of 40. Early detection can significantly increase the chances of better treatment outcomes. Here are some of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer.
Signs and symptoms of oral cancer
Some symptoms include swellings, lumps, rough spots or eroded regions on a person’s gums, lips or other areas inside the mouth. Oral cancer is associated with the development of velvety white, speckled or red patches in a person’s mouth or unexplained bleeding in the mouth. A person may experience pain or tenderness in any area of the mouth, face or neck, loss of feeling or unexplained numbness. Some people complain of soreness or a feeling that there is something caught in the back of the throat.
An individual may also experience difficulty speaking, chewing or swallowing or moving the tongue or jaw. Other symptoms include hoarseness, change in voice or chronic sore threat. Ear pain, dramatic weight loss or a change in the way the dentures or teeth fit together are also common. Persistent sores on the neck, face or mouth that easily bleed and do not heal within two weeks can also be indicators of oral cancer. A person who has any of these symptoms should inform the dentist.
There are several factors that increase the risk of developing oral cancers. Men have a higher chance of getting oral cancer compared to women. Smokers, as well as excessive alcohol drinkers older than 50, are regarded to be the most at-risk. The human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted sexually, has also been linked to throat cancers at the back of the mouth. Other risk factors include a family history of cancer and excessive sun exposure, especially when a person is young. But people should know that more than 25% of oral cancers occur in individuals who do not smoke but who only drink alcohol occasionally.
People can benefit from knowing the signs and symptoms of oral cancer. If you notice any of them you should contact your dentist or health care provider. People are often advised to see an oral health care provider if the symptoms last for about two weeks or more. This will help ensure it is caught early enough and will increase the chances of successful treatment.
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