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Oral Cancer

Dentist in Warren, NJ

Oral Cancer

Oral  cancer accounts for 2.9% of all diagnosed cases of cancer in the United  States. According to the American Cancer Society it is estimated that  51,000 people across the country will develop oral cancer this year and  that 10,000 fatalities are expected from the disease.

Oral cancer can occur anywhere  in the orofacial complex but is most often found on the tongue, the  tonsils and oropharynx, the gums, floor of the mouth, lips, cheek lining  or the hard palate. While the disease can affect anyone, men are twice  as likely to develop oral cancer as women. Those particularly at risk  for oral cancer are men over the age of 50 who are heavy smokers and  frequently drink alcohol. Additional risk factors may include UV  exposure from the sun or sunlamps, GERD (gastro-intestinal reflux  disease, prior head and neck radiation treatment, exposure to certain  chemicals and poor diet. While the death rate from oral cancer has been  decreasing in the past several decades thanks to early detection and  advanced methods of treatment improving the outcomes of care, there has  been a recent rise in the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer due to  increased transmission of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus  (HPV).

What are some of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer?

As part of a comprehensive exam, the dentist will perform a screening for oral cancer. To start, the dentist will review the patient’s medical and dental  histories and ask if there have been any changes to his or her oral  health or overall health. The dentist will then carefully check in and  around the oral cavity as well as the head and neck area for any of the  following signs or symptoms that may indicate the presence of a problem:

  • Mouth ulcers or sores that do not heal

  • Lumps

  • Red or white patches

  • Persistent swelling of unknown origin

  • Pain when swallowing, a painful tongue or a continuing ear or neck ache

  • A constant feeling that something is stuck in the throat

  • Tenderness or numbness in the mouth or lips

  • Loose teeth

  • Jaw pain or stiffness

If a suspicious lesion, tissue  abnormality or unusual symptoms are present, the dentist will refer the  patient for a more comprehensive assessment. Early detection of oral  cancer offers the most favorable outcomes of care.

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