Cancer is the growth of malignant tumors that spread into neighboring cells and infect the tissue. Oral cancer may seem like a sore or growth in the mouth that does not diminish or heal. It can affect the lips, sinuses, throat, tongue, hard and soft palates, inner cheeks, and anywhere else within the mouth. Unfortunately, oral cancer can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early enough.
Why should you be concerned?
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, “close to 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year” alone.
What are the causes of oral cancer?
There are two major causes of oral cancer, but many contributing factors. If you use tobacco or alcohol, you are at much greater risk for oral cancer. Other contributing causes include, but are not limited to, a diet lacking recommended nutrients from fruits and vegetables, human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, and too much exposure to the sun.
What symptoms should you look for?
There are many symptoms resulting from oral cancer, all of which occur on your lips or inside your mouth. Some include:
- White or red specks
- Bleeding, pain, or numbness
- Sores that do not heal
- Chronic soreness
- Pain or difficulty swallowing or chewing
Other symptoms outside the mouth can include:
- Swelling of the jaw or neck
- Pain in the ear
- Change in voice
- Coughing or hacking
Are there treatment options for oral cancer?
If you suffer from oral cancer, options do exist. There are multiple types of oral tumors, some cancerous, others precancerous (have a potential to become cancerous), and still others that are completely benign (noncancerous). The first step is to identify which kind of tumor you have. To do this, a biopsy will be needed. The biopsy will then be sent off for testing. The results of these tests will indicate whether it is cancerous, and if it is, what stage of development the oral cancer is in. This will determine the course of action necessary for treatment, which your dentist in Cambridge will discuss with you.
What should you do if you are experiencing any of these symptoms?
Many of these symptoms can be caused by viruses and other ailments, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Alert your dentist to the symptoms and get their professional assessment.
If you are in Cambridge and looking for a local dentist’s office, Fresh Pond Dental can help.
Our specialists utilize the latest in dental technology advancements to diagnose oral cancer and are always ready to help