Given the grave threat oral cancer poses, we do well to be familiar with its main symptoms, which include the following:
- Colored spots. Red, white, or red-and-white patches inside your mouth could potentially be cancerous. White spots are least likely to be cancer, while red is the most likely.
- Bleeding. Bleeding in your oral cavity, especially around your teeth and gums, could be caused by periodontal disease, but it can also be caused by oral cancer when the tumor puts undue pressure on surrounding tissues as it grows.
- Swelling. Oral cancer can cause swelling or thickening of specific areas of your mouth. The affected area may develop into a bump or lump and. It can then affect your ability to properly chew, swallow, and speak, especially if the cancer is located on the tongue, lips, or palate.
- Numbness or pain. Cancer cells can interfere with the proper functioning of nerves in the mouth and face area, causing localized numbness, but they can also overload nerves and cause extreme pain or hypersensitivity.
- Ear pain. Often, as oral cancer progresses, it increases pressure on areas around the mouth, including the ears. This can lead to a chronic, dull pain in the ear that just won’t go away.
- Sore or hoarse throat. Obviously, a sore or a hoarse throat can result from something as harmless as a common cold, but a chronic, extreme version of these maladies might be caused by oral cancer.
- Sores that are slow to heal. Cancer slows down your body’s ability to repair and heal itself. This can lead to sores remaining on your face/neck or in your mouth for weeks or months on end. We refer here to sores that would normally heal quickly.
- Tiredness and weight loss. Cancer cells drain your body of energy and force you to use up stored fat supplies. Cancer can also decrease the efficiency of how your body extracts energy from food. The results are both chronic exhaustion and unhealthy weight loss.
Given the grave danger posed by cancer of the mouth and the difficulty in detecting it early, it is wise to schedule a regular dental check-up that includes an oral cancer exam. Being aware of the symptoms yourself will help you to know when to schedule a special exam instead of waiting for your annual or bi-annual exam.
In Ormond Beach and throughout Volusia and Flagler Counties, Florida, periodontist Dr. Kenzik can provide you with a comprehensive dental exam that includes checking for symptoms of oral (mouth) cancer. By being proactive in this regard, you can alleviate any fears you may have or catch any cancer in the oral region early to maximize the effectiveness of treatments.