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5 Signs of Oral Cancer

5 Signs of Oral Cancer

Most people know someone who’s been affected by cancer, especially by skin cancer, which occurs in 1 in 5 Americans at some point.

Fortunately, early detection has done wonders with many forms of cancers by ensuring people get treatment in the earliest stages of the disease.

Yet, one area people often overlook is their mouth. This location accounts for approximately 3% of new cancer diagnoses in the United States annually. It’s also the most common type affecting the head and neck.

Fortunately, Dr. Caesar Sweidan and Dr. Laura Smith can often spot signs of a potential problem during a routine checkup at Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants in Gulfport, Mississippi. And there are also several signs you can watch for that shouldn’t wait for your next appointment.

Our team offers insight into five signs of oral cancer.

Where oral cancer develops

The first thing you need to know to detect a potential issue is where oral cancer can form — mainly your oral cavity. But what does that include exactly?

When experts talk about the oral cavity, they are referring to numerous areas, including:

Cancer can form in any of these structures. And it can spread to other parts of your body.

If Dr. Sweidan or Dr. Smith suspect cancer, they can perform a biopsy to reach a diagnosis.

Understanding your risk of oral cancer

Several factors can lead to oral cancer, especially using tobacco products.

Additional risks for developing oral cancer include:

However, it’s essential to note that 25% of individuals diagnosed with oral cancer are non-smokers with no known risk factors.

Five common signs of oral cancer

It’s easy to confuse the signs of oral cancer with other mouth problems. However, if you notice these issues, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith recommend scheduling an appointment.

1. Discoloration

Different types of cancer can cause different color and texture changes in the mouth. As a result, don’t ignore strange patches in your mouth or throat that you can’t brush away, especially if they bleed when scraped.

The same applies to rough spots, crusty areas, or lumps.

2. Sores or ulcers

It’s usually not a cause for concern if you occasionally get a canker sore or other irritation. However, if you have a sore inside your mouth or on your lip that doesn’t heal within two weeks, it’s time to see an expert.

3. Difficulty using your mouth

Are you having issues with chewing or swallowing? Speaking? Moving your tongue or jaw? Your mouth is telling you there’s a problem. 

4. Pain

You probably know you shouldn’t ignore a toothache. But you shouldn’t overlook any tenderness, numbness, or pain in your mouth, face, neck, or ear that occurs for no reason either. 

5. Chronic bad breath

Finally, it’s easy to blame bad breath on a garlicky lunch. But if you have persistently bad breath despite good oral hygiene habits, there could be an underlying cause like periodontal disease or oral cancer.

Taking action against oral cancer

You may not be able to prevent oral cancer entirely. However, you can reduce your chances by avoiding tobacco products, drinking only in moderation, and protecting your lips from the sun.

In addition to these steps, remember to visit your dentist regularly. Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith perform oral cancer screenings during routine dental exams. This preventive appointment can help us detect cancer and precancerous changes early.

And don’t wait to book a visit if you notice any of the above signs.

How is your oral health? Contact Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants to schedule a consultation in Gulfport, Mississippi, by calling 222-868-9615 today.

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