The Oral Cancer Foundation tells us that nearly 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer this year. Of the people newly diagnosed with these cancers, only about 57% will live longer than five years. Often, this type of cancer goes unnoticed by the patient until it has progressed to later stages. While smoking and alcohol consumption have long been known as risk factors, the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer among young non-smokers has steadily increased due to HPV16 — the same virus that causes more than 90% of all cervical cancers.
Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms
The earliest signs of oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer may be mistaken for other problems, such as a toothache or cold. If symptoms persist for several days or weeks, it is important to see your doctor. Many of these symptoms can be due to other, less serious problems or other cancers. Signs and symptoms to watch for include:
- Unusual lumps or bumps in the mouth, wart-like masses, mouth sores that do not heal
- Pain or difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Unusual nosebleeds or other bleeding from oral cavity
- Distortion of any of the senses, numbness in oral or facial regions
- Sore throat, hoarseness, ear pain
- Progressive swelling, enlarged lymph nodes, shifting of teeth
Free Oral Cancer Screenings in October!
Thankfully, having regular oral cancer screenings is the best way to detect oral cancer in its early stages, when treatment outcomes are much better. To help emphasize the importance of oral cancer awareness within our community, our practices will be offering FREE oral cancer screenings throughout the month of October! Be sure to ask for an oral cancer screening at your next dental checkup.