April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the United States for 2022 are:
- About 54,000 new cases of oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer.
- About 11, 230 deaths from oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer.
Early detection can result in better options when it comes to treatment so knowing what to look for, being aware of potential risks, and keeping regular dental appointment to monitor your oral health are key.
Where Can Oral Cancer Occur?
Oral cancer can affect any of the following areas:
- Cheek lining
- Front of the tongue
- Floor and Roof of the mouth
- Throat, Tonsils and Base of the Tongue
Common Oral Cancer Symptoms
It’s important to be aware of the possible signs and symptoms of oral cancer. If you notice symptoms that are lingering beyond two or three weeks, see your dentist for a check-up and make certain to share your concerns with them.
- A sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
- Red or white patches
- Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
- A lump, thickening, rough spot, crusty or eroded area
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
- Possibly a sore throat or feeling as if something is caught in your throat
- Numbness, hoarseness or a change in voice
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
- Men are twice more likely to get oral cancer than women.
- The lifetime risk of developing oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer is: about 1 in 60 (1.7%) for men and 1 in 140 (0.71%) for women.
- Smokers and excessive alcohol drinkers older than 50 are the most at-risk.
- Just over 20% (1 in 5) of cases occur in patients younger than 55.
- Certain strains of HPV can also put you at risk. HPV-positive head and neck cancers typically develop in the throat at the base of the tongue and in the folds of the tonsils making them difficult to detect. HPV-positive head and neck cancers are related to the rise in throat cancers in non-smoking adults.
- If you have had oral cancer before, you may be more likely to develop it again so keep up those regular visits.
Regular Dental Check-Ups Support Early Detection
Keeping regular check-ups with your dental professional that include an examination of the entire head and neck are key for oral cancer awareness. You’ll be able to share any new or unusual symptoms and receive a thorough exam oral exam. Early detection is key so your dentist may require a reexamination in a few weeks to monitor concerns or recommend additional flow-up with a specialist. If you have questions about your oral health or have concerns, call us at 248-852-3130 so we can help.