Mouth cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth, be it the lips, tongue, throat, salivary glands, larynx, sinuses and pharynx. Early detection is important – a reason it is recommended that one should visit the dentist as soon as the first warning signs appear.
What Are the Early Warning Signs?
Your dentist will look for any signs of cancer during regular checkup appointments and will provide the necessary attention required should any of the following occurs –
- Any areas of red or white lesions in your mouth or lips
- Feeling of a lump or object stuck in your throat
- Any swellings that make it uncomfortable for wearing dentures
- Having loose teeth with no apparent dental cause
- Having any lingering sore throat or hoarseness
- Having trouble moving your tongue or jaw or having any problems speaking, chewing or even swallowing
- Any sores, lumps or thick patches found anywhere in or around your mouth or throat
Why does oral cancer happen?
Even though the exact cause of oral cancer is unclear, there are, however, certain factors which promote the risk of catching the disease.
The suspected causes include the use of different carcinogenic substances. For instance, one of the main culprits is thought to be tobacco – be it cigarettes, pipes, cigars and smokeless tobacco. These are known to increase the risk of oral cancer. Consumption of alcohol is also known to increase the probability.
Apart from alcohol and tobacco, another two factors – age and the eating habits – are also known causes of oral cancer.
Most oral cancers are found to occur in people who are over the age of 40. Coupled with a diet that is less in fruits and green vegetables also makes it a free pass for the disease to contract. It also needs to keep in mind that excessive exposure to the sun rays also has a tendency to cause cancer on the lips.
It is only recently, that it has been found out that oral cancer is associated with the HPV 16, a kind of sexually transmitted disease.
Screening and treatment of oral cancer
The examinations of oral cancer by the dentists are not only quick but are also painless and vital in detecting the disease in its early stage. A routine check-up of your teeth and gums are recommended. The dentist will also check the lips and face for any sign of the disease beyond your mouth. He also has the option of palpating the neck as well as the jaw area along with examining the top and the underside of the tongue. Do note that the screening of oral cancer should be done every five to six months.
Regular visits to your dentist are one of the surest ways to diagnose and identify oral cancers at an early stage. Keep an appointment with your dentist every six months or so, and get a check-up done.