Like any other form of cancer, early detection of oral cancer is the key to ensuring that you get the most effective treatment possible. That means it's important to know the signs and symptoms of the disease, because even though it just happens in the mouth, it can still be deadly.
In many cases, it sneaks up on people before they realize what's going on. Either they do not recognize the symptoms or convince themselves that it is really no big deal and that they'll go away soon enough.
If you see any of these signs, do not ignore them. Let a medical professional know if any of them are hanging around for a while.
Spotting the Signs
According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, it's easy to mistake the signs of oral cancer for other problems, so if any of these persist for a long time, be sure to see your dentist or a doctor as soon as possible.
The most common signs and symptoms include:
· Persistent mouth sores that do not heal
· Persistent bad breath
Persistent mouth pain (in the teeth or lower jaw)
· A lump in the neck or in the cheek
· Unexplained voice changes
· Numbness in the tongue or jaw
· Teeth becoming loose
· Difficulty swallowing or chewing
Many of these signs may be totally benign and no cause for worry. But if you spot some of these signs and currently fit with some of the well-known risk factors, it may be
Know the Risk Factors
There are some factors that contribute to your risk level. Some of them come down to demographics, while others are certain behaviors that are not good for your teeth and gums.
It's important to remember that technically anyone and everyone is at risk if they're not keeping a healthy dental routine, but the probability goes up considering based on:
· Age – People over 50 have a higher chance to develop this disease.
· Gender – Men tend to be at a greater risk than women.
· Genetics – If your family has a history of cancer, your chances of developing the same greatly increase.
· Smoking – This is probably one of the largest contributing factors. A smoker can be six times more likely to get oral cancer.
Smokeless tobacco – If there's a larger contributing factor than smoking, it's chewing smokeless tobacco.
· HPV – There are certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause oral cancer. There is a vaccine, though, which can decrease your chances.
· Excessive alcohol consumption – While this is not as bad as tobacco, it does still contribute to your chances of contracting the disease.
One thing that many people do not talk about is the risk of recurrence. If the cancer is spotted and taken care of during its first or second stages of development, the survival rate is as high as 90%.
However, people who have taken care of the disease once are at a much higher risk of recurrence.
A simple screening takes just a couple of minutes, and it can save your life. So, make sure you know the signs of oral cancer so you can take care of it before it can become a true threat.