Oral Cancer: Signs, Risk Factors, and Prevention

Did you know that your dentist can pre-screen you for oral cancer every time you come in for a checkup? Your routine cleaning and exam is about more than spotting cavities and potential tooth problems. Screening for oral cancer is an important part of each visit to the dentist.

Learning to Spot Oral Cancer: Signs You Should Know

Oral cancer comes in many shapes and forms. Fortunately, oral cancer is highly treatable when spotted early. Some of the signs you should watch for include the following:

  • Sores that cover your throat, gums, tongue, and other mouth tissues.
  • Discoloration of the tongue, gums, or inner cheek.
  • A sore that bleeds often or refuses to heal.
  • White or red patches in the mouth.
  • A feeling that something is stuck in the back of your throat.
  • A sore throat that won’t go away and is not associated with another illness.

Although many of these symptoms are also commonly associated with other illnesses, it’s important to get any signs or symptoms checked out.

How Do I Know If I’m at Risk for Oral Cancer?

A patient may not always know if oral cancer runs in their family, and that kind of risk is out of your control. However, some of the risk factors are in your control, and you can change your habits to improve your odds of avoiding oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors You Can Control

  • Tobacco use. Oral tobacco products can significantly elevate your risk of oral cancers. You can also increase your risk of lung cancer and esophageal cancer, depending on if you smoke, chew, or otherwise use tobacco.
  • HPV infection. Contracting the human papillomavirus can increase the risk of contracting several cancers, with mouth cancer being one of them. Your child may qualify for HPV vaccination, which can help prevent HPV.
  • Poor nutrition. A healthy diet can decrease your risk of many cancers. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to maintain good health.

How To Prevent Oral Cancer

Based on the risk factors above, you can stop smoking, eat healthy, and get informed about the HPV vaccine to better protect yourself from oral cancer. You can’t change risk factors like age or genetics. Fortunately, you can also think about genetic testing to see if you are predisposed for oral cancer.

Concerned About Oral Cancer? Give Us a Call Today!

If you have any questions about oral cancer screening, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’d love to answer your questions or schedule an appointment for a thorough exam and cleaning.