Signs and Risks of Oral, Head and Neck Cancer
Visiting your dentist regularly isn’t just about having a beautiful smile. It can also lower your risk of oral cancer. Around 100,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral, head and neck cancer this year with nearly 75% of those cancers diagnosed in the mouth.
The number of yearly cases has steadily increased but the age of those diagnosed keeps decreasing. Even if you are young, it is important to know the risk factors and signs.
Who is at risk?
Oral cancer kills someone every hour.
• The risk is higher for males who smoke or drink heavily
• The human papillomavirus (HPV) is also known to cause oral cancer, especially in people under age 50. Anyone who is sexually active should be screened
• Anyone with a prior head and neck malignancy
Screening for Signs
Take advantage of Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week and make an appointment with your dentist for an oral exam. If something appears to be out of the ordinary, your dentist may recommend additional testing.
In between visits to your dentist, there are some signs you should watch for:
• A growing mouth sore
• Pain in your mouth that won’t go away
• Lumps or discolored patches inside your mouth
• Bloated cheeks
• Difficulty chewing, moving your tongue or swallowing
• Swelling or difficulty moving your jaw and jaw pain
• Soreness in your throat
• Pain around your teeth or loosening of teeth
• Numbness inside or around your mouth
• Voice changes
• A lump in your neck
• Bad breath
Early detection and understanding of the signs and risks are the best ways to prevent these types of cancers. Schedule your screening today!