Prevent Advanced Oral Cancer by Knowing the Symptoms

Being Aware of Oral Cancer Symptoms May Save Your Life

Mouth cancer cases are increasing and the mortality rate is remaining about the same. The main reason for this is that it is usually not detected until it is already in an advanced stage. Being able to detect it sooner will enable many more people to enjoy a longer life and one with a better quality of life. 


Knowing the Importance

One of the important factors in getting early treatment is to understand why early treatment is so important. Some people, even after they see unusual and unhealthy looking symptoms in their mouths, still do not go to the dentist for a diagnosis. This gives the mouth cancer time to spread. 


Oral cancers normally spread fast due to all the blood vessels in the head and neck. They can also spread fast because there often is no pain associated with it in the early stages. People also are not aware that a sore in the mouth, or other problem, could develop into mouth cancer. 


The Statistics

It is expected that as many as 53,000 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed this year. About two-thirds of those cases will be men and one-third women. The tragic thing is that 47% - almost half – of that group will not be alive at the five-year mark.

When oral cancer is caught in the early stages, the survival rate is much higher. Early detection could enable as many as 83 percents to survive the five-year mark. This makes it important that people understand the symptoms and the need for a quick diagnosis. 


The Normal Diagnosis

Normally, it is the dentist that makes the first diagnosis of mouth cancer. The dentist often provides an oral cancer screening at the same time as a regularly scheduled dental cleaning. Dentists are trained to be able to recognize cancer of the mouth and can even make an initial biopsy. The problem with this, while it is excellent for those who get regular dental cleanings, is that many people hardly go to a dentist at all. This leaves the majority of people without screening and no idea about oral cancer and what to look for. 


Self-diagnosis

A possible solution to this problem is to teach people how to recognize oral cancer symptoms and to know when to have it diagnosed. Self-tests could lead to the early diagnosis that is needed to possibly avert cancer, or at least catch it in the early stages. 


The Study

In one study that took place in India, the idea of teaching people about oral cancer and when to seek a diagnosis was conducted with 57,700 people. After being instructed about oral cancer and the symptoms, it was discovered that many cases were discovered early. In each case, the people were given the proper treatment. The results were that 216 people were identified as having potentially malignant lesions and three people had oral cancer. In this case, a problem was that only 32 percent of the people who recognized symptoms actually sought medical treatment.


Early Signs of Mouth Cancer

Knowing the symptoms of oral cancer can enable you to extend your life if you seek diagnosis and mouth cancer treatment right away. Knowledge must lead to action or it is worthless. 


The symptoms of oral cancer that you need to look for include: 

  • White or red (or both) patches

  • Sores in the mouth that do not heal after two weeks

  • A persistent sore throat

  • Ear pain

  • Difficulties with swallowing or speaking

  • Hoarseness

  • Changes in your mouth

  • Unexplained pain or numbness in the mouth or neck

  • Weight loss for no apparent reason

  • Loosening of the teeth

  • A lump in the neck.


Mouth Cancer Causes

In most mouth cancers, there will be a problem with uncontrolled multiplication of abnormal cells the mucous lining of the mouth – called squamous cells. The exact process is not yet understood, but several risk factors have been identified. They include:

  • All forms of tobacco

  • Heavy use of alcohol

  • Lots of exposure to the sun on your lips

  • Oral human papillomavirus (HPV)

  • A weak immune system.


Preventing Oral Cancer

Although it is not possible to totally prevent oral cancer, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk. You need to stop using tobacco and alcohol, and protect your lips from the sun's rays. Maintain good oral health and eat a healthy diet. 


Conduct Oral Self-Exams

Take a good look in your mouth and learn its topography. Look it over regularly and watch for any changes. This is especially important if you are over 45 and have some risk factors. When you see mouth sores that last for more than two weeks or other symptoms, be sure to visit a dentist quickly to get a diagnosis – do not wait long. 


If you discover that you have some possible symptoms of oral cancer during self-examination, you need to follow up right away with getting a diagnosis. Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist can conduct an oral cancer screening and get a biopsy on any suspect tissue. His offices are located in the Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX areas. Most dental plans are accepted. For a consultation or oral cancer screening, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.

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