April was Oral Cancer Awareness Month; a time when dental professionals joined with other medical professionals to highlight the dangers that oral cancer brings, and to call attention to the progress made in fighting this disease. Early detection is the best way to lower the risk of this cancer and it’s important to make detection and prevention a priority in your life.
What Behaviors are Likely to Cause Oral Cancer?
Though this issue is complex, according to the Mayo Clinic, some behaviors place you at greater risk of contracting oral cancer:
- Tobacco, whether it is smoked or smokeless.
- Alcohol and tobacco together.
- Sun exposure puts you at greater risk for lip cancer.
- A poorly balanced diet that excludes fruits and vegetables.
- Age can also be a factor; most victims are aged 40 and over.
What Are the Symptoms?
As a dentist, Dr. Angela S. Evanson, DDS is best equipped to detect early signs of oral cancer during your biannual check-ups. Be sure to discuss this with her at every checkup and ask for an oral cancer screening every time. As with any cancer, early detection gives you a better chance of survival and regular check-ups with Dr. Evanson will alert her to any changes in your mouth.
Some symptoms to watch for include the following:
- Numbness of the tongue or in other areas of your mouth
- Pain in only one ear, unaccompanied by hearing loss
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing, or difficulty moving your jaw or tongue
- A lump, sore or other irritation in your mouth, on your lip, or in your throat that doesn’t go away
- A white or red spot in your mouth, especially on the inside cheek
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth or loose teeth
- Lumps, thickening tissues, rough spots, crusty or eroded areas in your mouth
Oral Cancer Prevention
You can lower your risks of developing mouth cancer by following these guidelines:
- Eliminate tobacco in all forms
- Never combine alcohol and tobacco use at the same time
- Limit exposure to the sun, using a high Sun Protection Formula (SPF) sunscreen and lip balm
- Eat plenty of natural foods, including more fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy immune system
- Brush and floss regularly
- Have regular check-ups with Dr. Evanson at least twice a year
If detected early, oral cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation effectively, however the death rate from mouth cancer remains around 57 percent five years after diagnosis. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, the high mortality rate is because few cases are diagnosed early enough to allow the proper treatment. Many who do survive mouth cancer suffer long-term problems, such as severe facial disfigurement or difficulties with eating and speaking.
If you have never had an oral cancer examination, schedule an appointment with Dr. Evanson now. Detection and prevention of mouth cancer should become a priority as you discuss this serious topic with her at every checkup. Contact her online or call her office at (720) 409-0008.
Dr. Evanson is located at 17167 E. Cedar Gulch Parkway #202 in Parker, Colorado, with easy access to patients in the communities of Highlands Ranch, Aurora, Castle Rock and Lone Tree.
Dr. Evanson is the first line of defense and diagnosis for oral cancer, and early detection is still the best way to lower your risk.