Every year, over 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer so remaining vigilant in the fight against oral cancer is vital to preventing it. Oral Cancer Awareness Month is recognized every April, but that’s not the only time we should be on the lookout for the signs and risk factors of this deadly disease. Learn the facts about oral cancer with Dr. Jessica Christy of Orchard Hill Dental in Hendersonville, NC, where we are dedicated to helping patients maintain healthy, beautiful smiles.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Any cancer occurring in the mouth, throat, tongue, lips, or tonsils can be considered oral cancer. The prevalence of this disease has been rising steadily in the United States and is responsible for over 330,000 deaths worldwide every year.
You’re probably familiar with one of the major causes of oral cancer, which is tobacco use. Chewing tobacco, smoking, and other tobacco products have long been known to increase the risk of oral cancer, as well as lung cancer and other serious ailments. You may be surprised to learn that HPV-16 (human papillomavirus), the same virus responsible for cervical cancer in women, is also a prominent cause of oral cancer in both men and women.
Oral Cancer Signs and Symptoms: When to See A Dentist
Dentists are adamant about educating patients on the signs and symptoms of oral cancer, and not just in patients who smoke. Many patients are at risk and need to be aware of potential warning signs
- Sores in the mouth that do not heal after 2 weeks
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Eroded areas on the lips or inside the mouth
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw
- Swelling, bumps, rough spots, or patches inside the mouth or on the lips
Early prevention is key to many diseases, including oral cancer. When detected early, survival rates are much higher and can be managed with minimally-invasive treatments.
Talk to your doctor about the HPV vaccine to protect yourself against HPV-16 infection, which is linked to oral cancer. Tell your dentist if you suspect you have been exposed to HPV so they can examine your mouth, throat, and neck for signs of HPV-16.
Preventing Oral Health Problems By Screening Early and Often
Every dental check-up at Orchard Hill Dental includes a thorough screening for oral cancer. Our team examines the mouth, throat, and neck for signs of oral cancer, and we gather patient history to determine any risk factors. An oral cancer screening is quick and painless, so be sure to stay on top of your 6-month checkups and talk to your dentist if you find any symptoms. Schedule your appointment online today or call our office at (828) 247-7001 to meet with Dr. Christy at Orchard Hill Dental in Hendersonville, NC.