Signs and Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

April 7, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — Keely Marlowe @ 8:57 pm
graphic of a head labeled “Oral Cancer”

If you’ve been to your dentist for a checkup recently, you may have been surprised when they or a dental hygienist quickly ran their fingers over your neck. This is an oral cancer screening, and within seconds it can allow your dentist to check you for one of the most serious oral health conditions that there is.

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, which gives dental professionals an opportunity to educate people about this disease. In that spirit, here’s some more information about the signs and symptoms of oral cancer.

How Common is Oral Cancer?

You might not think that oral cancer is all that common, but unfortunately, you’d be wrong. It’s estimated that someone is killed by the disease as often as once an hour, every hour. It’s also estimated that among people who contract it, 43% of them will not survive longer than five years.

Being aware of the dangers of the condition is critically important to catching it early, and therefore improving your chances of survival.

What are the Risk Factors for Oral Cancer?

If you’ve done any research at all on cancer, you know that there are all kinds of things that can contribute to your chances of developing it. However, there are some major risk factors for this condition specifically that are worth considering.

Alcohol and tobacco use are the big ones. Abuse of both substances has been connected with a dramatically higher risk of contracting oral cancer down the line.

There are also risks associated with the sexually transmitted disease HPV. While common and mild, this virus can potentially lay dormant for years and, in rare cases, can increase oral cancer risk.

Signs of Oral Cancer

Typically, oral cancer is indicated by several of the following symptoms. While the symptoms are varied, it’s important to note that if they’re caused by cancer, they won’t heal over time. This can distinguish them from other conditions that may present similarly.

The symptoms include:

  • An enduring sore or ulceration
  • Red, white, or black discoloration
  • Bleeding abnormality in the mouth
  • Lump or hard spot on the border of the tongue
  • A strange growth
  • A painless, firm, immobile lump on the neck

HPV-induced oral cancer may also include:

  • Hoarseness lasting longer than several weeks
  • Swollen tonsil on one side
  • Persistent cough
  • Difficulty swallowing, as if something is caught in your throat
  • An earache on one side

If you have any of these symptoms for longer than a few weeks, contact your dentist about an oral cancer screening.

About Our Practice

At Brodhagen Dental Care we have been serving our community for over 50 years, and the reason that families keep coming back to us is because we have been able to earn their trust with our exceptional dental care. We work hard to make every aspect of dentistry, from simple checkups to complete smile transformations, as easy as possible for you.

If you have any questions about oral cancer, we can be reached at our website or by phone at  (920) 499-2121.