It may be rarely talked about in comparison to more well-known cancers, but oral cancers are just as deadly, and sometimes even deadlier, than more discussed cancers. Studies show about one person every hour dies in the United States as a result of oral cancer, and sadly oral cancer is not difficult to diagnose, but simply is usually not discovered early in most patients and often times is caught because the cancer has metastasized to a more detectable location. When it comes to ensuring your own health and preventing oral cancer there are a few things you should know:
Some people are more at risk for the development of oral cancer than others. If you partake in or suffer from any of the following, your chances for developing oral cancer increase:
Smoking & Tobacco Usage — Smoking is bad for your oral health. Period. But when it comes to cancer, most people associate tobacco usage with lung cancer. However, studies have shown that of the oral cancer cases that have developed, nearly 75% of those were in frequent smokers. Though it’s not always easy to quit, know the potential risks that tobacco usage has on your health.
Heavy Drinking — Though not as highly correlated with the occurrence of throat cancer as smoking, those who frequently partake in binge drinking have also been linked to a heightened rate of oral cancer occurrence. There is an even higher rate of oral cancer amongst those who both drink frequently and are heavy smokers.
Contraction of HPV — Human Papilloma Virus is most frequently associated with the development of cervical cancer, but it can also contribute to oral cancers such as oropharyngeal cancer as well.
Diagnosis and Prevention
In order to prevent a possible case of oral cancer from going undetected, partake in the following strategies:
Self-Examination — Self-examination makes it sound more thorough and complicated than necessary, but in reality you just need to keep an eye out for early signs of oral cancer formation such as the development of lesions, cysts, lumps or ulcers that do not resolve within two weeks. Any abnormal growth or symptom should be reported to your doctor or oral health professional — no matter how small.
Visit Your Oral Health Professional Regularly — Skipping the dentist is never a good idea, but when it comes to preventing oral cancer, someone with a well-educated knowledge of the oral cavity (such as your dentist) can help identify any early signs of abnormal growths that may be signs of cancer formation.
Be Proactive — By no means is oral cancer among the most common cases of cancer. At Austin Oral Surgery, we rarely run into cases of the ailment, however, the best offense is a good defense. Research and remember the early symptoms of oral cancer and let your healthcare professionals know if you discover any out of the ordinary signs or symptoms in your oral cavity.
For more information about Austin Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery’s services in oral pathology (including cancer) visit www.austinoral.wpengine.com. For questions or to schedule an appointment at the location nearest you, contact our Patient Service team at 512-686-5682.