Oral cancer is not as uncommon as people think. In 2008 an estimated 34,000 cancers of the mouth and throat were diagnosed. In order to minimize your risk of developing oral cancer, be aware of habits that increase your risk.
Early signs of oral cancer can mimic harmless sores that occur in the mouth such as canker sores, minor infections, or irritations that occur from biting or eating certain foods. Cancers in the lip area can easily be mistaken for harmless sores.
It is important to have regular oral examinations to detect signs of oral cancer. Although 90 percent of oral cancers occur in people who are over 40, it is becoming more prevalent in younger people, particularly those who adopt risky behaviors: smoking, drinking and oral sex.
It is important not to let a suspicious sore go unchecked. If detected and treated early, while a lesion or growth is small, survival rates can exceed 80 percent. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about oral cancer. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”
No one wants to hear the word “cancer.” But thanks to advances in detection and treatment, the disease increasingly can be stopped in its earliest stages when it's most treatable and outcomes are most favorable. Oral cancer accounts for a relatively small 3% of cancers in men and 2% in women, but early detection rates are lagging. Our office screens for oral cancer as part of your regular checkups. Knowing some of the signs and symptoms can help you monitor as well.
The main areas where oral carcinomas (cancers) occur are:
Most oral cancers are preceded by surface changes (lesions) of the oral membranes. In the “precancerous” stage, white or red patches start forming and a non-healing ulcer may appear. The most common locations on the tongue for this to occur are on the sides and underneath on the floor of the mouth. Lip cancers typically develop on the lower lip, usually in people with a history of sun exposure. There has often been prior damage at the site such as scaling and crusting.
Be aware that oral cancers can be mistaken for cold and canker sores, ulcers, minor infections, and even irritations caused by biting or certain types of food. If lesions don't heal within two or three weeks, there's a higher likelihood that they are cancerous.
An in-office examination includes the following:
There are some risk factors for oral cancer that can't be controlled, such as a family history, age and race. But awareness, monitoring for potential signs and seeking prompt attention are always key ingredients in protecting your oral health!
If you would like more information about oral cancer detection, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”
When it comes to your oral healthcare, we strive to provide state-of-the-art care along with education to both our patients and community. One way we do this is by taking a moment to answer some of the questions we are most often asked about a certain topic. And one topic that almost always ignites questions is the subject of lumps and bumps in the mouth.
Help! I just found a small lump in my mouth — what should I do?
Not to alarm you, but your first priority is to contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment so that we can review it. Most often, we will know what it is by taking a history, knowing how long it's been there and what it looks like. Depending on what we find, we may want to take a biopsy so that we can determine exactly what it is and how we need to treat it.
What is involved in having a biopsy performed?
A biopsy is a normal and routine procedure that is used to definitively diagnose and confirm exactly what the abnormal lump, bump or other tissue is. It is typically performed with local anesthesia so that a small tissue sample can be removed without any pain for examination under a microscope. Depending on the size of the wound, it may require two to three sutures (stitches), leaving a flat and flush surface that heals in a few days to a week. The procedure usually lasts between 10 and 15 minutes with the lab results processed within a few days.
Does this mean I have cancer?
No, the chances are slim that you actually have cancer. However any change or sore in the mouth that does not heal in a week or two should be evaluated by a dentist and if necessary biopsied. If it is pre-cancerous and removed, it could save your life. The most important fact you need to remember is that no one can tell for sure what the abnormal tissue growth is until an expert in oral pathology (“patho” – disease; “ology” – study of) examines it under a microscope. While it is human nature to be concerned, until you have the facts, you are suffering needlessly.
To learn more about this topic, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Common Lumps and Bumps In The Mouth.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific questions so that we can put your mind at ease.
Oral cancer is on the rise in the United States, yet few people are familiar with the disease and its risk factors. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) estimates that 35,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year. The good news is that prevention and early detection can greatly reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer Include:
Symptoms: Alert our office if you notice a change in your mouth such as a sore that doesn't heal or bleeds easily; a lump, thickening, crust or erosion; pain or tenderness; or a change in the way your teeth are positioned. Our office can administer an easy, painless test that detects abnormal cells.
Other symptoms may include unexplained bleeding or numbness in the mouth, difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking, hoarseness, chronic sore throat or changes in your voice.
Importance of Dental Screenings: In its early stages, oral cancer can often go unnoticed, but visiting our office regularly can ensure that any cancerous cells are detected and treated early. Our office will check your tongue and the area under your tongue, as well as your lips and palate and the back of your mouth.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions that you may have regarding oral cancer. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer: This Article May Save Your Life.”
Let's talk about oral cancer. Yes, it's a scary subject — but the truth is, the more you know about it, the better able you are to protect yourself.