Oral cancer, like other cancers, is a life threatening conditions. It needs to be caught as early as possible to maximize the chances of successful treatment. Treatment is by surgical removal of affected tissues, followed by radiation and/or chemotherapy.
What Exactly Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is a broad term. It can refer to cancerous tumors or cells forming on the lips, tongue, inner cheeks, top or bottom of the mouth, on the gums, in the sinus cavity, or in the throat.
The symptoms associated with oral cancer are quite diverse. First, the presence of lumps, erosion, swelling, or thickened areas in the oral cavity OR the presence of white, red, or red-and-white spots are a major indication.
Soreness, unusual bleeding inside your mouth, numbness, or hyper-sensitivity of the mouth, face, or neck are also symptomatic. Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking and a feeling as if something were stuck in your throat are additional symptoms.
Finally, pain in the ear, a sore throat that seemingly won’t go away, and sudden, dramatic weight loss could also be symptoms.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
Oral cancers generally begin in the very thin (squamous) cells lining the lips and inside of the mouth. Cells mutate genetically and keep growing when ordinary cells would die. The mutated cells then spread to other parts of the oral cavity and sometimes beyond.
No one really knows for sure what causes the cancerous cells to develop, but we do know of a number of risk factors that increase the chances that someone will develop this kind of cancer.
Smoking or using any form of tobacco products is a huge risk factor for oral cancer. Drinking excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages also greatly increases your risks.
Weak immune health, the STD virus called HPV, and genetic predisposition are additional risk factors. For lip cancer, too much sun exposure is a risk factor and a possible contributing cause.
Preventing Oral Cancer
Again, you can’t guarantee a prevention of oral cancer by anything you do. But there are things you can do to reduce the risks and catch it early if oral cancer ever should appear.
First of all, quitting smoking and drinking in moderation if at all will reduce your risks significantly. Getting plenty of vitamins and minerals in a healthy, balanced diet is just as important – especially because of the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables that help “detox” your body naturally.
Avoiding excessive sun exposure will help protect you against lip cancer.
Finally, maintaining good oral health, being aware of what symptoms to look for, and seeing your periodontist at least once a year for a oral cancer screening exam and general oral health check up, will help ensure it’s caught and treated early if you were to get that dread disease.
Your periodontist will know how to examine you for all symptoms and how to take a biopsy if necessary.
To learn more about oral cancer awareness and prevention, feel free to contact Dr. Raymond A. Kenzik in Ormond Beach, FL, today.