Oral Cancer

One of our team members took an afternoon off to be with a friend who was just diagnosed with oral cancer.  They are going to MD Anderson to get more information, so please keep them in your thoughts. Oral cancer is particularly dangerous because it can be hard to detect in the early stages.  Although the mortality rate for cancer has decreased, the incidence for oral cancer has increased by 5.5% and the death rate has also increased by 1.5%.  Smokers and tobacco users have a higher risk of oral cancer.  Oral cancer currently has the highest death rate in America due to the fact that it is not detected until later stages in most patients.

The good news is that your dentist is able to see the small early changes that occur in its earliest stages.  One of the most obvious signs is a white or red patch of tissue in the mouth which can sometimes look like a canker sore.  It is important that if you have a sore that is discolored and it does not heal with 14 days, that you contact your dentist. 

Other symptoms include:

           Lump or mass that can be felt inside the mouth or neck

           Pain or difficulty swallowing, speaking or chewing,

           Wart like masses

           Hoarseness which lasts for a long time

           Numbness in the oral or facial region 

90% of oral cancer is curable when found early.  Be aware of changes in your oral health and do not hesitate to contact your dentist to look at anything that worries you before it is too late.