Oral cancer can be a scary diagnosis, but you can have a better outcome if it is diagnosed early. Early diagnosis leads to early treatment, and you can help your dentist by regularly doing a self-check for abnormal areas in your mouth. This is especially important if you use tobacco products, but you need to know what to look for. The dentists at Pearlfection Dentistry in Frederick and Urbana, MD, offer a wide range of services including oral cancer screening to help you.
So, what are the signs and symptoms to look for? Oral cancer has some definite concerns to look for, including:
- Areas of thickened, wrinkled, or white tissue in your mouth
- Open lesions or sores in your mouth that don’t heal
- Chronically irritated, eroded, or rough areas in your mouth
- Tenderness or numbness around your lips, cheeks, or in your mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes or lumps in your mouth, on your face, or neck
- Difficult or painful swallowing, chewing, or talking
- Chronic hoarseness or a sore throat
You can do a lot to prevent oral cancer. One of the most important steps you can take is to stop smoking or using tobacco products. You should also avoid drinking alcohol in excessive amounts. The combination of tobacco use and alcohol consumption is the biggest cause of oral cancer in the United States.
You should also do a self check in your mouth regularly looking for any of the signs and symptoms listed above. Check the inside of your cheeks, the top and sides of your tongue, underneath your tongue, your gums, your lips, and other areas of your mouth. Early diagnosis can improve your chances of survival by as much as 75 percent.
If you notice any potential abnormal, precancerous, or cancerous changes, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist may recommend a biopsy to determine if precancerous or cancerous changes are present.
Remember, nearly 8,000 people will die from oral cancer each year, according to the National Cancer Institute. You don’t have to become a statistic! To find out more about the signs and symptoms of oral cancer, call the office of our Frederick and Urbana, MD, general, cosmetic, and restorative dentists, Dr. Jared Lawson, Dr. EJ Stringer, Dr. Tammira Badakhshan, and Dr. Nikta Pashai, oral surgeons Dr. Brian Chang and Dr. Leo Perez, periodontist Dr. Ashley Seals, prosthodontist Dr. Amos Chi, orthodontist Dr. Stephen Tigani, pediatric dentist Dr. Leslie Oakes, and endodontist Dr. Patik Patel today at (301) 663-5550.