Oral Cancer Prevention, Detection, and Treatment

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Cancer is something that we all are aware of in some capacity. We know the dangers that it poses, at least to some degree. We’ve seen ribbons and wristbands raising awareness of its many forms, but many of us haven’t given a thought to the real possibility of cancer having an impact on our life if it hasn’t already. Oral cancer is something that many of us don’t pay much attention to, thinking it’s something that only happens to those of us who have been chain smoking for decades. However, that is not always the case. There are more than 200,000 reported cases of oral cancer every year in the United State, most common in individuals ages 40 to 60, always extremely serious.

What Contributes to Oral Cancer?

  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Very poor oral hygiene
  • HPV16
  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation
  • Exposure to certain viruses and fungi

How Can You Detect Oral Cancer?

  • It can be painless, with no physical signifiers for an extended period of time.
  • Dentists and physicians can detect small precursor tissue changes.
  • Red or white patches of tissues in the mouth may emerge.
  • Small, indurated ulcers, which look like common canker sores, may form.
  • A lump may be felt inside the mouth or neck, causing pain or difficulty swallowing, speaking, or chewing.
  • If a sore or discolored area of your mouth does not heal within 14 days, see a dentist or physician as soon as possible.

Treatment

  • Chemotherapy
  • Concurrent radiation with chemotherapy treatment
  • Possible surgery to remove infected tissue
  • Use of monoclonal antibody therapy

Proper oral care and avoiding tobacco (smoking, smokeless, and everything in between) and excessive alcohol consumption are very important for all of us to stay healthy. In most cases, taking these few precautions can keep our mouths free of cancer and help everyone sleep easy.

If you or someone you know shows any signs of oral cancer see a dentist and/or physician as soon as possible.