What your dentist in Decatur wants you to know
Oral cancer can be disfiguring and even fatal. Fortunately, there are some common signs and symptoms you can look for that may indicate early precancerous or cancerous changes. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to surviving oral cancer. Dr. Carol Cunningham at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL wants to share how to look for oral cancer, prevention, and professional oral cancer screening.
Some common signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:
- White or red open lesions in your mouth that aren’t healing
- Chronically irritated or sore areas in your mouth
- Wrinkling or thickening of oral tissues
- Eroded or rough areas in your mouth
- Numbness or tenderness around your lips or in your mouth
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing or talking
- A chronically hoarse voice or a sore throat
One of the most important things you can do to prevent oral cancer is to stop smoking or using tobacco products. You should also avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol because the combination of alcohol and tobacco is responsible for most oral cancers in this country.
If you have lifestyle risk factors for oral cancer, you should perform a self-exam regularly to check for any tissue changes or lesions. If you can catch any signs early, leading to early diagnosis, you can improve your chances of surviving oral cancer by as much as 75 percent. If cancer has spread, chances of reaching five year survival are only 20 percent.
If you use tobacco or drink alcohol, make sure you go in for an oral cancer screening from your dentist regularly. Your dentist will check the inside of your cheeks, under your tongue, the roof of your mouth, back of your throat and other areas to look for tissue changes. They may request an oral biopsy to determine whether tissue changes are normal.
Oral cancer is serious and shouldn’t be ignored. The National Cancer Institute estimates nearly 8,000 people will die from oral cancer each year. For more information about oral cancer or to schedule an oral cancer exam, call Dr. Carol Cunningham at Gentle Art of Dentistry in Decatur, IL today!