Who is most at risk for oral cancer?
People who use tobacco are six times more likely to develop oral cancer. Eight of ten oral cancer patients are smokers. Heavy alcohol drinkers are also more at risk. 80 percent of people diagnosed with oral cancer consume more than 21 drinks weekly. Finally people with a history of oral human papilloma virus infections are at greater risk to develop oral cancer even if they don’t smoke or drink.
What are the warning signs of oral cancer?
- Red or white patches in or behind the mouth
- Mouth sores or ulcers that bleed easily and do not heal
- Unexplained lump in the neck, throat or floor of the mouth
- Difficulty or discomfort swallowing
- Pain and tenderness in teeth or gums
- Change in the fit of dentures or partial dentures
- Visible change in mouth tissue
- Unpleasant sensations (pain, discomfort, numbness)
- Diminished ability to perform normal functions such as opening jaw, chewing or swallowing
- Unexplained swelling or fullness in neck
What is cancer?
As the building blocks of or our body, cells maintain our tissues and organs. When cell production and regulation lapse, abnormal growths or malignant tumors destroy healthy tissues and spread or metastasize the diseased cells to other parts of the body.
Where does oral cancer occur?
About two-thirds of cancer of the mouth or oral cavity occurs in the floor of mouth and tongue, but can occur in the upper or lower jaw, lips, gums and cheek lining. Just behind the mouth is an area known as the orophyarnx. Oropharygeal cancer (one-third of cases) occurs in the back of the tongue, tonsils and throat tissue.
How can you prevent oral cancer?
The Cancer Society recommends a comprehensive oral evaluation and soft tissue exam annually, yet only one in five patients reports having an oral cancer exam in the last year.
Your prosthodontist is trained to perform a comprehensive evaluation of your mouth including the associated structures in the head and neck area. An oral cancer screening is painless; treatment for advanced oral cancer is not.