Common signs of oral cancer
In the early stages, oral cancer is often painless. You may begin to experience a burning sensation in the mouth as the cancer grows. Contact Smiles on Queen for oral cancer screening if you experience any of the symptoms below for more than two weeks:
- Sores or ulcers in the mouth that last for more than two weeks
- White or red patches on the tongue as well as other areas like cheeks and gums
- Lumps or bumps anywhere in the mouth or on the throat and neck
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing food
- A sensation of something stuck in the throat
- A sore throat that never goes away
- Changes in voice
- Numbness and pain/bleeding in the mouth
- Pain in the ears
Keep in mind that in many patients, symptoms do not appear until late into the cancer progression. When they do appear, they may be in areas of the mouth difficult for you to see, such as the roof of the mouth, the back of the throat, or the posterior sides of the tongue.
When the first baby teeth begin to appear, a soft washcloth or soft brush may be used to clean the teeth, preferably twice a day and after feeding. A small amount (size of a green pea) of non fluoridated toothpaste may be used, and once the child is old enough to spit, they may graduate to a fluoridated toothpaste. Avoid tooth pastes and polishes that contain harsh abrasives. Most young children are not able to brush on their own so having an adult help out or supervise is always recommended.
Are you at risk of oral cancer?
It is important for everyone to visit a dentist for oral cancer screening at least once every year. The screening is normally done during the regular dental checkups to help detect the disease early and develop a treatment plan. It’s important to know if you are more susceptible to oral cancer.
- Men are more likely to get oral cancer than women
- People over 55 are more at risk of oral cancer
- Diseases: If you suffer from HPV, you are at an increased risk of oral cancer
- Family history: If you have someone within your family who had oral cancer, you are also at an increased risk.
- Lifestyle: Heavy drinkers and smokers are more likely to get oral cancer than those who have never smoked or drank.
- Excessive sun exposure can also put you at an increased risk, especially of skin cancers secondary to burns.
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Treatment for oral cancer – What if we find something?
In most cases, the screening will be done and indicate that there is nothing to worry about. However, there are situations whereby after performing the exam, the dentist may find dangerous growths or suspicious bumps. If necessary, our dentist will ask you to come back for a second visit so that they may have another look.
Further exams can be done if the area has not improved, which may include a biopsy which is evaluated by an oral pathologist. If a biopsy is done and it reveals cancerous tissues are present, you will be referred to the appropriate medical professional.
Have any questions regarding oral cancer screening? We’ll be happy to help you in any way we can.