Oral and pharyngeal (mouth and upper throat) cancer collectively kill nearly one person every hour of every day of the year.1 April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month so make sure to take these preventative measures and be aware of the symptoms of these cancers to help aid in early detection and treatment.
It’s estimated that over 40,000 people in the U.S. received a diagnosis of oral cancer in 2014.2 Be on the look out for these signs that may be areas of concern:
- Sores, painful patches, lumps, rough spots or swelling in mouth or on lips
- Bleeding of the mouth
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chronic soreness or irritation of the throat, or feeling like something is caught in the back of the throat
- Change in the way teeth fit together in mouth or dentures fit in the mouth
- Change in voice
- Unexplained numbness or pain in face, mouth and/or neck
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
There are certain steps you can take to help aid in the prevention of oral cancer. These precautionary measures can help your oral health but also your overall physical health:
- Drink in moderation. Oral cancers are about six times more common in drinkers than in nondrinkers.
- Don’t smoke or use chewing tobacco. Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancers and using dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco products result in you being 50 times more likely to develop cancers of the cheek, gums, and lining of the lips.3
- Eat a healthy diet
- Limit sun exposure to lower the risk of lip cancer
- Perform a self exam once a month to look for any changes in the roof of your mouth, cheeks, gums, tongue and throat
- Keep your regular dental check-up even if you are doing self exams as areas of concern can be hard to spot on your own.
Prevention and awareness are powerful tools in catching oral cancers in the early stages and increasing the effectiveness of treatment. If you notice anything out of the ordinary and it’s been awhile since your last appointment, call us today to schedule a check-up so we can perform an oral cancer screening exam.