There it is again. . . the dreaded C word. Cancer has unfortunately become a very common disease, but the thought of it still makes people cringe. While there are many types of cancer, some are more well known than others. So certain times of the year are set apart to raise awareness for the lesser known types. April is one such time, set aside to raise awareness for oral cancer.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 132 new people in the US are diagnosed with oral cancer every day. And every hour of every day, one person dies from it. Oral cancer is not something to play around with.
Oral Cancer Explained
According to the NIH, “The term oral cancer includes cancers of the mouth and the pharynx (the back of the throat).”
Also according to the NIH, common symptoms include:
- White or red patch in the mouth
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
- Numbness in the tongue
- Pain in one ear without hearing loss
Experiencing one of these symptoms for a couple days does not necessarily mean you have oral cancer. Once you’ve been dealing with these symptoms for more than a couple weeks, then you can start pursuing an oral exam. Even then, many other things could potentially cause the symptoms above. It’s worth checking into though, because if oral cancer is the culprit, it can be treated more easily the sooner it’s caught.
This cancer can be caused by smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, excessive sun exposure, and the sexually transmitted disease HPV (type 16). The risk significantly heightens when alcohol and tobacco are used together. The risk also heightens in people over 40.
Oral Cancer Exams and Treatments
These exams are quick and painless and can be performed by your doctor or dentist. Whoever performs the exam will check your mouth, neck, face, and throat for any indications of cancer.
There are many options for oral cancer treatment, including radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and biological response modifiers. The best cure, of course, is prevention. So make sure your dentist checks for any tell-tale signs at each visit, and avoid heavy alcohol and tobacco use and excessive sun exposure.
To find out more about oral cancer, visit the Oral Cancer Foundation. Or if you have specific questions, feel free to contact our office through this form or call us at 864-256-0184. We’d love to help!