This message from Chesterfield Smile Design focuses on a very serious subject—oral cancers. The medical community categorizes oral cancers as a subset of head and neck cancers.
Oral cancers can occur in the following locations:
- The tongue
- The roof of the mouth and under the tongue
- The inside of the cheeks
- The oropharynx (the part behind the soft palate)
- The salivary glands
- The lips
Oral Cancers Are Particularly Deadly
Over 50,000 people annually are diagnosed with a type of oral cancer. They are more than twice as prevalent in men. There is no disparity when it comes to blacks or whites. Oral cancers claim over 10,000 victims per year.
The statistics reveal that only 57 percent of those diagnosed this year will be alive in five years. Let’s consider the common—and the not-so-common—warning signs of oral cancer.
Any sore or lump in the mouth or throat should be taken seriously. Any white or red patch could also be a symptom.
Don’t Ignore These Signs!
You will want to get checked out if you:
- Have a lump or thickening in your throat
- Have white or red patches on your tongue, tonsils, or lining of your cheeks and gums
- Notice numbness of any oral feature
- Have any type of lesion, cut, or canker-type sore that doesn’t heal within 14 days
Less-common symptoms include tongue pain and loose teeth. A hoarse voice that doesn’t go away should be a concern. Unexplained tooth discoloration is rare but not unheard of.
Early Diagnosis Can Save Your Life
Getting checked for oral (or any) cancer regularly is essential for lots of reasons. One of the most important is to catch any problems early. That gives treatment the best chance of succeeding. While most people don’t show symptoms until around age 40, it occurs in younger people too.
It is also more widespread for those who use chewing (smokeless) tobacco to get oral cancer. Some think these are safer than smoking cigarettes. This may be true when it comes to lung cancer, but not oral cancer.
Also, don’t assume vaping is less harmful. Though there is less research on the health risks of vaping, it certainly hasn’t been proven to be risk-free.
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