Everything You Should Know About Oral Cancer

Oral cancer appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that won’t go away, and approximately fifty-three thousand Americans are diagnosed with it every year, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.

Mouth cancer refers to cancer that develops in any part of the mouth, such as the lips, gums, tongue, inner lining of the cheeks, and the roof or floor of the mouth. This condition can be life-threatening if it’s not diagnosed early. Continue reading to learn more about oral cancer

Understanding Oral Cancer

One person dies from oral cancer each hour, resulting in over nine thousand oral cancer-related deaths each year. Of the fifty-three thousand Americans diagnosed with it, only an estimated fifty-seven percent of them will be alive in the next five years. If you expand the definition of oral cancer to include larynx cancer, the numbers of diagnosed cases increase to fifty-four thousand individuals, and over thirteen-thousand deaths per year in the U.S. alone. 

Some countries don’t track cases of oral cancer, so the above figures are bound to increase when you consider unreported cases. The mortality rate of people who live with it is higher than that of cancers that are more talked about, such as cervical or breast cancer. Historically, the death rate of this cancer is alarmingly high because it’s usually discovered late in its development. Even with today’s technology, there’s no comprehensive program in the U.S. to screen for it during its early stages; this is why late-stage oral cancer is prevalent. 

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Here are the most common symptoms of oral cancer:

  • Swellings, lumps, rough spots, and crusts forming on the lips, gums, or other areas of the mouth 
  • Development of velvety white, red, or speckled patches in the mouth 
  • Bleeding in the mouth
  • Numbness or pain in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
  • Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and don’t heal within two weeks
  • Difficulty chewing, speaking or swallowing
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
  • Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice
  • Feeling like something is caught in the back of your throat
  • Sharp ear pain
  • Change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
  • Dramatic weight loss

If you notice any of these symptoms, visit your dentist or orthodontist immediately. 

Risk Factors Associated with Oral Cancer

Men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer compared to women, according to the American Cancer Society. Unfortunately, men who are over age fifty are the demographic who are most at risk. Other risk factors include:

  • Excessive consumption of alcohol. Oral cancer is six times more common in people who drink. 
  • Family history of cancer
  • Excessive exposure to the sun, especially at a young age. 
  • Cigarette, cigar, and pipe smokers

Contact Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah

If you suspect you may have oral cancer, consult with your dentist immediately. Your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon for a definitive diagnosis. Contact Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah, and our board-certified surgeons will help you. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Schedule an assessment today.