According to recent studies over 37,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer in the United States each year. Men account for 70% of oral cancer patients and oral cancer accounts for less than 5% of all reported cancer cases in the U.S. Oral cancer is however the sixth most common cancer found in men. While many people think oral cancer is caused by smoking, nearly 25% of oral cancer cases are discovered in non-smokers.
Oral cancer typically appears in the mouth as a sore that does not go away. The sore can be located on the lips, tongue, inner cheeks, or on the roof (hard palate) or floor of the mouth. If you develop a problematic spot in your mouth, call your dentist immediately. Many times your dentist will notice changes in your oral health during regular dental checkups. If it has been a while since you had been seen by a dentist here are the most common symptoms of oral cancer:
- Developing a thickness or swelling in the mouth.
- Bumps, lumps, rough spots, crusty or eroded areas in the mouth or on the lips.
- Velvety white, red or speckled patches that develop in the mouth.
- Unexplained or persistent bleeding in the mouth.
- Numbness, pain or tenderness that cannot be explained on your face, in your mouth or on your neck.
- Developing sores that bleed for extended periods on the face, mouth or neck.
- The feeling like something is caught in the back of your throat or persistent sore throat.
- Lumps in the neck.
- Difficulty eating, swallowing or speaking or problems moving the tongue.
- Ear pain.
If you are concerned you have any of these symptoms or a combination of several symptoms it is important to see your dental professional immediately. Oral cancer, when discovered in early stages has a good survival rate. Problems in your mouth should not be ignored. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, please take time to pay attention to your oral health.