Cancer that originates in the throat or mouth is known as oral cancer. Nearly 53,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with this condition and 11,000 of these cases are fatal. However, many people don’t realize that oral cancer is actually a very preventable and treatable type of cancer. The key is establishing a relationship with a dentist that you trust.
When detected early, oral cancer does not have to be life-threatening and can actually be treated with many proven methods. According to an oral surgeon, some people are more at risk of developing oral cancer if they have a smoking habit or if it is in their family history. These higher-risk patients are encouraged to attend regular dentist appointments for dental exams and evaluations. Here are some of the most common signs that you may have oral cancer:
- Mouth pain or bleeding
- Lumps in and around the mouth
- Sores in the mouth
- Red or white patches inside the mouth and throat
- Constant sore throat
- Feeling like there’s something stuck in your throat
- Trouble chewing food
- Jaw swelling
- Ear pain
- Neck swelling and lumps
- Sudden weight loss
- Change in vocal tone
Like many symptoms, these could be unrelated to your health or could apply to another health issue, aside from oral cancer. The only way to know for sure is to have an evaluation from a dentist. This is especially important when identifying signs early on in order to move on to treatment. Often, oral cancer treatments involve a variety of professional disciplines including an ear, nose, and throat doctor (otolaryngologist), dental surgeon, cancer doctor (oncologist), and regular oral care professional. Treatment strategies will depend on the stage of oral cancer and the recommendations of the medical team. However, most approaches involve some type of surgery along with radiation or chemotherapy.
Oral cancers that are localized (in one spot, rather than spread throughout the body) can be destroyed efficiently with treatment options. If, on the other hand, this cancer has spread, then chemotherapy and surgery are utilized to contain the disease. Ultimately, a medical team will seek to relieve the symptoms and prevent cancer from spreading any farther.
While oral cancer may sound like a scary thing, it is, fortunately, one of the most preventable types of cancer. This means that people can significantly lower their risk of developing this disease by attending regular dentist appointments and keeping up proper oral care routines. If you are looking to get dental implants or some other dental procedure in Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, or any areas of Orange County, then you should make sure to get a full dental evaluation beforehand. Oral care professionals like those of Aria Dental will be able to analyze your current oral health along with general wellness, family history, and daily habits that contribute to the way your body functions. It’s amazing what research and technology have allowed us to accomplish, especially within the medical community. Now, more than ever, we are equipped to provide solutions to common medical problems and help people live a longer, fuller life.