Oral and throat cancer are something I routinely check my patients for. For them, symptoms may be severe – or even non-existent. But whatever the case may be, I can see the signs almost immediately.
Most oral cancers appear on the lips, tongue or on the floor of the mouth. They also may occur inside your cheeks, on your gums or on the roof of your mouth. And, if left untreated, a patient may experience severe disfigurement or even death.
There is some interesting information surrounding these types of cancer. I’ve compiled these ten sobering facts about oral and neck cancer from a website run by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance:
- 85% of oral, head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco use. Smoking cigarettes is the major cause of most head and neck cancers. Chewing tobacco has been shown to cause mouth cancer. Human Papilloma Virus may be related to over half of tonsil cancers.
- Cancers tend to form in the areas where tobacco/alcohol use has the most contact. For example, where the cigarette sits on the lip, or where the chewing tobacco is placed in the mouth.
- 66% of the time, oral cancers will be found as late stage three and four diseases.
- Men are affected about twice as often as women with oral cancer.
- Signs of oral, head, and neck cancer: a sore in your mouth that doesn’t heal, constant pain in your mouth, lumps or patches in your mouth, pain around your teeth, changes in your voice, and a lump in your neck.
- Most head and neck cancers can be prevented, especially with smoking and/or tobacco cessation.
- The treatment of head and neck cancers requires the assistance of many different professionals, including dentists.
- Acid reflux disease could also be a major factor in throat cancer. In the case of acid reflux disease, acids flow up into the esophagus, and damage its lining, making it more at risk to throat cancer.
- Because of the location of head and neck cancer, it often affects breathing, eating, voice, speaking, and appearance.
- White patches in the mouth that will not rub off develop into about 4-18% of cancers.
I recommend maintaining a healthy diet, high in fruit and vegetables, and to quit smoking in order to lower your chances of developing oral and throat cancer.
Most importantly, regular dental check-ups can detect the early stages of oral cancer or conditions that may lead to oral cancer.
Also, my office will be offering free oral cancer screenings in observance of the 14th annual Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Week on Wednesdays and Thursdays in June. Contact the front desk today to set up your free 10-minute screening session.