Oral Cancer: Mouth Cancer, Tongue Cancer, Throat Cancer, Screening
Oral cancer is a serious disease that can affect any part of the mouth, including the tongue, throat, and lips. It is a relatively common form of cancer, with approximately 53,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States every year. Unfortunately, oral cancer is often not detected until it has progressed to an advanced stage, which makes it more difficult to treat. Early detection is key, and regular screenings with a dental professional can greatly increase the chances of catching oral cancer in its early stages.
One of the biggest risk factors for oral cancer is tobacco use, including smoking and smokeless tobacco. Alcohol use and a diet high in processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables can also increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Additionally, exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) has been linked to an increased risk of oral cancer.
Symptoms of oral cancer can include a sore or lesion in the mouth that does not heal, pain or difficulty swallowing, a lump or thickening in the cheek, tongue, or throat, or a persistent sore throat. However, many people with early-stage oral cancer do not experience any symptoms at all, which is why regular screenings are so important.
During an oral cancer screening, a dental professional will examine your mouth and throat for any signs of abnormal growth or lesions. They may also feel your neck for any lumps or swelling. If something suspicious is found, they may take a biopsy to determine if cancer is present. Early detection of oral cancer greatly increases the chances of successful treatment and a positive outcome.
It is important to stress that attempting to perform an oral cancer screening on yourself is not recommended. A dental professional has the training and expertise necessary to properly examine the mouth and throat for signs of cancer. They may also use special tools, such as a light or dye, to aid in their examination. Attempting to perform a self-exam could lead to missing signs of cancer, or to misinterpreting benign growths as cancerous. Learn More.
Regular dental check-ups are an essential part of maintaining good oral health, and they can also be an important tool for catching oral cancer early. The American Dental Association recommends that adults visit their dentist for a check-up and cleaning at least once every six months. During these visits, your dentist can perform an oral cancer screening, as well as check for other common oral health issues such as cavities, gum disease, and oral infections.
In addition to regular dental check-ups, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer. Quitting tobacco use, reducing alcohol consumption, and eating a healthy, balanced diet can all help lower your risk. Additionally, practicing safe sex and getting vaccinated against HPV can also help reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.
In conclusion, oral cancer is a serious disease that can have devastating consequences if not caught and treated early. Regular oral cancer screenings with a dental professional can greatly increase the chances of catching oral cancer in its early stages, which can lead to more successful treatment and better outcomes. Attempting to perform a self-exam is not recommended, as dental professionals have the training and expertise necessary to properly examine the mouth and throat for signs of cancer. By practicing good oral hygiene, visiting your dentist regularly, and making healthy lifestyle choices, you can help reduce your risk of developing oral cancer. Next article.