What is Oral Cancer?

What is Oral Cancer?

What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the tissues of the mouth or throat. It can occur anywhere in the oral cavity, including the lips, gums, tongue, or palate. Oral cancer is most commonly found in adults over the age of 40, and the risk increases with age. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, more than half of all cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 60.

While oral cancer is not as common as other types of cancer, it is still a serious disease. According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 53,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Of those53,000 people, only about 57% will still be alive after five years.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer. Keep reading to learn more about this disease and how you can protect yourself from it.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. These include:

-Tobacco use: Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco are all associated with an increased risk of oral cancer. The risk is even greater for people who use these products and also drink alcohol excessively.

-Excessive alcohol consumption: Drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing oral cancer, especially if you drink frequently or heavily.

-Betel nut chewing: Chewing betel nuts—the seeds of a tropical fruit—has been linked to an increased risk of oral cancer.

-Oral HPV infection: HPV is a virus that can cause changes in the cells of the mouth and throat, which can lead to cancer. People who have multiple sexual partners or who engage in unprotected sex are at a higher risk for HPV infection.

-Poor nutrition: A diet lacking in vitamins and minerals has been linked to an increased risk of developing oral cancer.  

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer often produces no symptoms in its early stages. This is one reason why it is so important to see your dentist regularly for checkups. During these appointments, your dentist will look for any signs of oral cancer or precancerous conditions.

If you do experience any symptoms, they may include:

-A sore on the lip or in the mouth that doesn’t hea

-A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth

-A lump or mass on the neck

-Persistent pain in the jaw area

-Difficulty swallowing or chewing

-Numbness in the tongue or other area of the mouth

-Loose teeth

-Change in voice

-Jaw swelling  


-Swelling lymph nodes    

If you experience any persistent symptoms like those listed above, see your dentist right away so they can determine whether or not they are caused by oral cancer.

Early Detection Is Key

If you catch oral cancer early enough, treatment is usually very successful. The most common treatments are surgery—either alone or in combination with radiation therapy—and radiation therapy alone. Chemotherapy may also be used if other treatments are not effective.. If you have any suspicious spots or lumps in your mouth , don't hesitate to make an appointment with your dentist so they can check it out! Taking care of your teeth and gums by brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly can help prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and other problems. Good dental hygiene habits also help you spot potential problems early so they can be treated before they become serious.

Oral cancer is a serious disease that can be deadly if not detected early enough. However, there are things you can do to reduce your risk, such as quitting tobacco products, limiting alcohol consumption, practicing safe sex, and eating a healthy diet. See your dentist regularly for checkups so they can catch any potential problems early. And if you experience any persistent symptoms like those listed above, don't hesitate to make an appointment with your dentist right away.

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Gabriela Vatafu and Lucian Vatafu, husband and wife, earned their DDS degree in 2005 at New York University, College of Dentistry. Whether performing restorative, cosmetic, prosthetic, or surgical procedures, their goal is to provide the best for patients.

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