01 Oct 2021

How to recognize the signs and symptoms of oral cancer

Sitting across from a professional and hearing you have cancer can be a life-changing moment. While cancer is a scary condition, today’s technology makes it easier than ever to not only diagnose cancer but effectively treat it. This applies to those who are at risk of oral cancer. Each year, over 30,000 individuals in the United States are diagnosed with oral cancer, according to ACS (American Cancer Society) statistics. But you don’t have to be one of them! Learning how to prevent oral cancer and understanding the causes of oral cancer can help you make the right decisions and know when to speak to a dentist in Bankers Hill, CA about the possibility of oral cancer being present. Dr. William V. Carlo will educate patients on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of oral cancer to not only get an accurate diagnosis but undergo treatment to bring their smile—and body—back to health!

What is oral cancer?

Oral cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the oral cavity. Oral cancer is like other cancers where cancerous cells are present. While the cells themselves may not be visible, there are certain symptoms and signs of oral cancer that might warrant a biopsy to look for cancerous cells. Do you know what to look for?

What are the causes of oral cancer?

It is not always known why one patient develops oral cancer, and another does not. There are many different factors at play when it comes to determining if a patient has an increased risk of experiencing this problem. Below are just a few of the factors that might be considered in deciding the patient’s risk of oral cancer:

  • Tobacco use (smoking and chewing)
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Gender (men are known to contract oral cancer at a higher rate than women)
  • Sun exposure, which can contribute to cancer on the lips
  • HPV/human papillomavirus
  • Age (average age of diagnosis is age 60)

What are the signs of oral cancer?

There are different signs and symptoms of oral cancer based on the stage at which it has reached. In the early stages, patients will want to pay attention to issues such as:

  • Jaw stiffness or pain
  • Painful tongue
  • Red or white patches on the soft tissues
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Increased hoarseness of voice
  • Sores in the mouth that do not heal or bleed
  • Painful swallowing
  • The feeling of an object in the throat
  • Shifting of the teeth with no noticeable reasons

As the condition persists, patients might experience the following late-stage symptoms that might require more immediate action:

  • Chronic earaches
  • Obstruction of the airways
  • Hardened areas of soft tissues
  • Pain, tingling, or numbness in the lips or tongue
  • Difficulty chewing or talking due to pain
  • A tightened sensation when attempting to open the mouth
  • Noticeable sores that do not resolve on their own or cause pain

How to prevent oral cancer

There are several ways in which patients can reduce their risk of oral cancer. Some of these include:

  • Checking the mouth regularly for new or unusual lesions or sores
  • Visiting the dentist regularly for cleanings, evaluations, and oral cancer screenings
  • Avoiding bad habits such as alcohol and tobacco use
  • Taking care of the smile by brushing and flossing after every meal
  • Protecting the lips and skin with sunscreen
  • Visiting the dentist the minute changes occur in the mouth that need immediate attention

Call today for an oral cancer screening in Bankers Hill

If you reside in the San Diego, CA area or beyond and believe that you may have oral cancer, a screening with a dentist is the first step. Call Dr. William V. Carlo today at (619) 285-0950 to request an appointment at the office, conveniently located at 3330 3rd Avenue, Suite #200. We are open to new patients, especially those with concerns regarding oral cancer.

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