Over 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, and being mindful of your risk of oral cancer is vital to preventing it. Although Oral Cancer Awareness Month is observed every April, that’s not the only time we should be vigilant about the signs and risk factors for this deadly disease. Learn the facts about oral cancer with Dr. Durning Moore at Charlotte Center for Complete Dentistry in Charlotte, NC, where we are dedicated to helping our patients maintain healthy, beautiful smiles.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Any cancer occurring in the mouth, throat, tongue, lips, or tonsils is referred to broadly as oral cancer. This disease has been steadily on the rise in the United States and is responsible for over 330,000 deaths worldwide every year.
You’re probably familiar with one of the primary causes of oral cancer, which is tobacco use. Chewing tobacco, smoking, and using other tobacco products have long been associated with increased risk of oral cancer, as well as the lungs and more. You may be surprised to learn that HPV-16 (human papillomavirus), the same virus responsible for cervical cancer in women, is also a possible cause of oral cancer in both men and women.
Oral Cancer Signs and Symptoms: When to See A Dentist
Dentists are determined to educate their patients on the signs and symptoms of oral cancer, and not just in patients who smoke. Many patients are at risk and need to be aware of potential warning signs
- Sores in the mouth that do not heal after 2 weeks
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Eroded areas on the lips or inside the mouth
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw
- Swelling, bumps, rough spots, or patches inside the mouth or on the lips
As with many diseases, early prevention is the key to successfully treating oral cancer. When detected early, survival rates are much higher and the condition can be managed with minimally-invasive treatments.
Talk to your doctor about getting the HPV vaccine to protect yourself against HPV-16 infection, which is linked to increased risk of oral cancer. Tell your dentist if you believe you have been exposed to HPV so they can examine your mouth, throat, and neck for signs of HPV-16.
Oral Cancer Screening in Charlotte NC
Every dental check-up with Dr. Moore at Charlotte Center for Complete Dentistry includes a thorough screening for oral cancer. Our team examines the mouth, throat, and neck for signs of oral cancer, and we gather patient history to determine any risk factors. An oral cancer screening is quick and painless, so be sure to keep your 6-month checkups and talk to your dentist if you find any symptoms. Schedule your appointment online with Dr. Moore today or call our office at (704) 761-7870.