Posts for tag: oral cancer
Find out whether the changes you are experiencing could be warning you of oral cancer.
While oral cancer may not get as much discussion as other cancers it certainly isn’t something to ignore. In fact, oral cancer actually has a higher death rate than other more commonly talked about cancers like Hodgkin’s lymphoma, testicular cancer and cervical cancer. Our Braintree, MA dentists are here to provide you with warning signs of oral cancer and when to visit us for care.
Oral cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth including the throat, lips, salivary glands and sinuses, just to name a few. As with any cancer or serious illness, early detection is key to having a successful and effective treatment. If you experience any of these symptoms for more than two weeks then it’s time to give our Braintree general dentist a call:
- A lump, sore, or suspicious growth on the throat or mouth
- Red or white lesions on your lips or in your mouth
- Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth
- Painful or difficulty chewing, speaking or swallowing
While oral cancer can happen to anyone there are some habits and lifestyle choices that can increase your risk. Using tobacco in any form, whether it’s smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco, can increase your chances of developing oral cancer. The Mouth Cancer Foundation has reported that as many as 90 percent of those who have been diagnosed with oral cancer also use tobacco. Heavy drinkers are also at an increased risk.
Age and nutrition also play a role. Those over the age of 40 are at an increased risk of developing oral cancer, and those whose diets lack nutrients found in fruits and vegetables are also more likely to develop this form of cancer.
Fortunately, oral cancer screenings are easy, fast and painless. We can even perform them at your next dental exam! It only takes a few minutes to examine your mouth to check for suspicious growths or symptoms that could be indicative of cancer. Any suspicious lumps or growths will be biopsied and tested for cancer.
If you are noticing a suspicious growth or lump, or any changes to your oral health, then it’s time to call Dr. George Salem and Associates in Braintree, MA right away.
Your regular dental checkups should periodically include an important screening for oral cancer, especially as you grow older. Although oral cancers make up less than 3% of all other types, they’re among the most deadly with a 58% survival rate after five years.
Besides hereditary factors, oral cancer is strongly linked to tobacco use, alcohol abuse or diets low in fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s also a greater concern as we age: 90% of new cases of oral cancer occur in people over the age of 40, heightening the need for regular screenings. These screenings become all the more important because many early sores or lesions can mimic other conditions like canker sores — without early detection, the disease could already be in advanced stages when it’s diagnosed.
An oral screening for cancer involves both sight and touch. We’ll first look for any suspicious lesions and red or white patches in the soft tissues of the face, neck, lips and mouth. We’ll then feel for any abnormal lumps on the mouth floor, the sides of the neck and in gland locations. We’ll also examine all sides of the tongue including underneath, as well as the tissues lining the back of your throat.
If we notice anything that’s concerning we may then perform a biopsy by removing a small bit of the suspicious tissue and have it examined microscopically for the presence of cancer cells. We may also remove any lesions deemed pre-cancerous as an added precaution against possible cancer development.
The American Cancer Society recommends an oral cancer screening annually for people forty years or older and every three years for people between the ages of 20 and 39. Even better, we recommend all adults undergo a screening every year. This, along with ending tobacco use and other lifestyle and dietary changes, will greatly improve your chances of remaining free of oral cancer.
If you would like more information on detecting and treating oral cancer, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”
Let's talk about oral cancer. Yes, it's a scary subject — but the truth is, the more you know about it, the better able you are to protect yourself.
- Who is more likely to get oral cancer? Because of your genetic disposition — heredity — men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women. African-Americans have a higher incidence than Caucasians. The disease is also related to aging, although in recent years many young people have been diagnosed with this disease.
- Are some habits related to development of oral cancer? Risk factors include use of tobacco in any form, both smoking and chewing, chronic exposure to sun, and consumption of alcohol. Moderate to heavy drinkers have a three to nine times greater risk than non-drinkers. Tobacco smokers are at five to nine times greater risk than non-users, and users of snuff or chewing tobacco are at four times greater risk than non-users.
- Where do most oral cancers occur? The most common areas are in the mouth itself, the lips, the tongue, and the pharynx (back of the mouth and throat).
- What are the statistics for survival after treatment for oral cancer? Conquering cancer depends most on early detection. Since most cases of oral cancer are discovered at a late stage, survival is poor, with less than 60% surviving five years after treatment. When oral cancers are detected early, the survival rate is more than 80%.
- What are some of the symptoms of oral cancer? Most oral cancers are “squamous” (small scale-shaped) cell carcinomas in the lining of the mouth. Signs of these cancers can be seen as white or red patches in the early pre-cancerous stage. These develop into an ulcer that does not heal.
- When should you seek medical help? If you notice color changes (white or red patches) or sores or ulcers anywhere in your mouth that do not heal within two or three weeks, go to your dentist for a checkup right away. Sometimes the sores resemble cold sores. A definitive diagnosis requires a tissue biopsy, in which a small piece of tissue is removed under anesthesia and taken to a lab for microscopic examination.
- What about regular routine examinations? An oral cancer examination should be part of your visit to our office. We will inspect your face, neck, lips and mouth for signs of cancer, feel the floor of the mouth and sides of the neck for any lumps, examine your tongue and the back of your throat. The American Cancer Society recommends a cancer related check-up annually for all individuals aged 40 and older and every three years for those between 20 and 29.