Unfortunately, oral cancer is all too common, and far too often fatal. The Oral Cancer Foundation reports: “close to 49,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer this year…of those 49,750 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years.” The foundation notes that, tragically, “the death rate for oral cancer is higher than that of cancers which we hear about routinely such as cervical cancer.” In many cases, oral cancer is not caught until it is in its later stages, making it more dangerous and difficult to treat.
Therefore, understanding the basic indications of oral cancer could literally save your life. At Dr. Craig Armstrong’s practice, we are proud to help our patients with oral cancer screening services. In the following blog, we describe the symptoms and signs to help you catch this condition early on and safeguard your smile.
What is Oral Cancer?
Defining oral cancer can help you know what to look for and how this condition can progress. WebMD describes: “cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue. Oral cancer appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away.” Basically, like all cancerous conditions, the diseased cells of oral cancer can snowball if left unchecked. WebMD continues: “oral cancer, which includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat), can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.” The encouraging aspect of oral cancer is that, if diagnosed diligently and caught soon enough, it can be cured.
Spot the Symptoms
It is crucial to know the symptoms of oral cancer. Some warning signs include:
- Abnormal growths or tissue changes in the mouth. Colgate Oral Care Center suggests that readers look out for “sores, swellings, lumps, or thick patches anywhere in or around your mouth or throat.”
- Decreased mobility in the jaw, cheek, tongue, or other regions of the mouth.
- Dental discomfort. Cancer Treatment Centers of America explains: “persistent mouth pain is another common oral cancer sign.”
- “Difficulty swallowing or chewing.”
- Loss of sensation in the mouth.
- “Persistent bad breath.”
- Unidentifiable throat pain. Colgate Oral Care Center advises readers to watch out for “the feeling of a lump or object stuck in your throat” or “lingering sore throat or hoarseness.”
- “Loose teeth with no apparent dental cause.”
If you experience any of the above, you should see Dr. Armstrong as soon as possible for a consultation. Note that these are only some of the symptoms of oral cancer—if you notice anything strange occurring in your oral tissue, you should have your mouth checked to be safe.
How We Can Help
At our Houston dental practice, we’re committed to keeping our patients’ mouths healthy. When you come in for your biannual cleaning and examination, we’ll screen your mouth for oral cancer, so you can enjoy peace of mind regarding your smile. Dr. Armstrong can also use oral pathology to further evaluate, diagnose, and treat any changes in your mouth tissue.
Protect Your Oral Health
We’re here to help you enjoy a healthy, beautiful mouth. It is vital to have regular oral cancer screenings. We’d be delighted to help you maintain your dental and overall well-being. Contact our Houston dental practice today to learn more and schedule your next appointment.