How to Recognize These Initial Signs of Oral Cancer

Posted on 2/21/2022 by Cole Anderson, DMD, MS
How to Recognize These Initial Signs of Oral CancerEvery year an estimated 54,000 people in the US are diagnosed with pharyngeal or oral cancer, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Often, oral or pharyngeal cancer is found during later stages, therefore the mortality rates are usually high. The signs and symptoms of these cancers are difficult to recognize at first. And because dental specialists spend more time examining the mouths of patients, they are more than other specialists likely to detect oral cancer. The best protection from oral cancer is to visit a dentist for routine exams. If the dentist detects suspicious signs in the mouth, you will be referred to a specialist in oral cancer treatment. In addition to routine exams, you can also perform monthly self-examinations.

Self Examinations

Although not a substitute for routine exams, self-examinations can go a long way in helping you detect oral cancer. They provide an additional life of protection from this cancer. Before you perform the exams, you need to remove any dentures or partials. Once you remove the restorations and oral appliances, you should examine the lips and gums, particularly the inside areas. Ensure you tilt the head back to examine the root of your mouth. To check inside the cheek, pull the cheek out. This will also allow you to check the back of your gums. Also, examine the tongue surfaces. Try to feel for enlarged lymph glands or lumps under the jaw as well as on the sides of the neck.

Signs to Look Out For

During the self-examination, look out for red, white, or a combination of white and red patches in the mouth. Also, check to see if you have a sore that does not heal or tends to bleed easily. You may have chronic sore throat and hoarseness, so be careful to notice these changes in the throat. If you have difficulty chewing and swallowing or you feel a mass or lump within the cheek, make sure that you visit our dental office for a thorough examination and screening. To get exams and treatment for oral cancer, visit our OMS office today.

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