You probably know someone who has or is currently battling cancer of some sort. Because it comes in so many different forms, it’s no surprise that we have researchers working daily, around the world, trying to find a cure. But did you know that with early detection, oral cancer in Reston is easily treated? If you haven’t been to your dentist lately for a checkup, you can guarantee you’ll receive an oral cancer screening, and for good reason. Find out why early detection is key.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ORAL CANCER?
Unfortunately, not all symptoms lie on the surface of the mouth, which is why your dentist will most likely take x-rays to not only look for signs of tooth decay or gum disease but oral cancer as well. However, if you want to know what symptoms can be seen above the gum line, here are a few signs to watch for:
- Oral sores that do not go away
- Lumps or rough spots throughout the mouth
- Red or white patches, or numbness in the mouth or lips
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your jaw
- A change in your bite
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important you call your Reston dentist immediately, so you can schedule an appointment to be checked.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE RISK FACTORS?
Oftentimes, people associate oral cancer with smoking, and while this nasty habit can and does contribute to certain cases, it’s not always the culprit. Before, you’d expect to hear that men over the age of 50, who smoke and drink heavily, are at the highest risk of developing oral cancer. However, the disease is occurring more frequently in younger individuals who don’t smoke.
One of the reasons is due to an increase in the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV). It can cause oral cancer and present the following signs or symptoms:
- Lump or swelling in the neck that is painless
- Sore throat
- Swelling of the tonsils
Other risk factors, unrelated to HPV, include:
- Extended sun exposure
- Tobacco use
- Heavy alcohol consumption
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I BE SCREENED?
Oral cancer screening is typically performed once each year; however, if you have a family history of it or are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer, you may be checked more than once a year. Early detection is key to this disease, simply because symptoms often do not appear until the disease has advanced to a dangerous stage. Your dentist will be able to identify certain signs even if you do not.
When detected early, there is a high survival rate, and your dentist can serve as your first line of defense. These oral cancer screenings are quick and painless, often occurring during a routine checkup. If your dentist does discover an area of concern, he will take a biopsy of the area and have it sent to a lab for an official diagnosis. If it’s determined it is oral cancer, you and your dentist will create a treatment plan to combat the disease.
We know it can be scary to hear the word, “cancer,” but if you take the necessary precautions, you and your dentist can stay on top of any issues. Don’t let avoidance of the dentist keep you from a potentially life-saving screening. Ask your Reston dentist about early detection today!