Close to 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year.
It will cause over 9,750 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day.
Research has identified a number of factors that increase the risk of developing oral cancers. Men are twice as likely to get oral cancer as they get older. If you smoke, drink excessive amounts of alcohol or have a poor diet, changing these habits can decrease the chances of developing oral cancer. Certain strains of HPV can also put you at risk.
It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer and visit your dentist if they don’t disappear after two weeks.
- A sore or irritation that doesn't go away
- Red or white patches
- Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
- A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
One of the real dangers of oral cancer is that in its early stages, it can go unnoticed. It can be painless, and few physical changes may be obvious. The good news is that your healthcare provider or dentist can detect it in its earliest stages.
Remember, the more you are an active participant in your health, the greater the likelihood that oral cancer and other cancers are detected early and life-saving treatment can start.
This is Dr. Laurie Hodge for Church Health.