Oral cancer is diagnosed in 53,000 people in the US a year. Oral cancer is easily treated if discovered in the early stages, but can seriously affect the quality of life and be deadly when discovered late. At Norfolk Family and Pediatric Dentistry, we will routinely screen for oral cancer at every exam appointment.
There are many risk factors that contribute to oral cancer, many of them can be controlled. They include tobacco use, smoking of any kind, excessive alcohol consumption, or a combined use of alcohol and tobacco, unprotected excessive exposure to the sun, low intake of fruits and vegetables. Another factor on the rise and seen in younger people is oral cancer due to infection with HPV16 (same cause as cervical cancer)
There are signs and symptoms to be aware of that will help with early discovery. They include red and/or white discolorations in the soft tissues of the mouth. Any sore or ulcer that does not heal within 14 days and may not be causing pain. Hoarseness which lasts for prolonged periods of time. Advanced indicators include a sensation that something is stuck in your throat, numbness, difficulty swallowing or moving the muscles of your mouth, lip or tongue, or a lump which develops in your mouth or on your neck. Should you experience any of the above contact us to make an appointment for a screening.
Mortality from oral cancer can be reduced by being screened yearly, avoiding risk factors, and involving your health care professional in suspicious lesions in the mouth or neck. Vaccinating your preteens for HPV can help them prevent cancer in the future as well.
For more information please contact Norfolk Family and Pediatric Dentistry at (508) 850- 6992. You can also check out www.checkyourmouth.org .