Each year, nearly 53, 000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer. Unfortunately, oral cancer will cause approximately 10,000 deaths each year, with about 1 fatality every hour of every day. There has been no significant improvement to this rate in the last few years. It has been reported that the high fatality rate associated with oral cancer is related to this cancer often been diagnosed later in its stages of development when it has usually already metastasized to another area of the body. In the early stages of oral cancer, it often goes unnoticed. When you routinely visit your dentist, they will look for signs of oral cancer. However, you can also keep an eye out for signs from day-to-day, how do you know what’s oral cancer and what is normal mouth tissue though?
What are some telltale signs of oral cancer?
In the early stages, some of the signs you may see are:
- Sores, lumps or swelling anywhere in or around your mouth or throat
- Red or white areas in your mouth or on your lips
- Loose teeth with no apparent reason
- A sore throat that seems to linger
- Issues with chewing swallowing or speaking
- Feeling of having a lump stuck in your throat
It is possible to experience other symptoms beyond this list. Should you find yourself experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms, you should make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible.
How is oral cancer diagnosed?
If your dentist should find that you have tissue in your mouth that appears to be abnormal, it will be sent in for a biopsy. A biopsy is when a small sample of tissue is taken from your body, in this case, your mouth, in order to have a closer look at it. This procedure can be performed by the oral surgeons here at Estudillo Oral Surgery. It is possible to perform this minor procedure using only some local anesthetic. The sample obtained will then be sent to a lab where it will be analyzed. Quite often, biopsies show that the underlying issue is benign, which means not cancerous. The abnormal-looking tissue may have been a result of fungal infections, herpes or salivary issues. However, if the biopsy should confirm a diagnosis of oral cancer, a team including your dentist and an oncologist can help to recommend the appropriate next steps.
How is oral cancer treated?
Often, your oral surgeon will perform an operation to remove the tumor or cells from your mouth. This can be done as an outpatient procedure. Sedation or a local anesthetic may be needed depending on the size of your tumor. This may be in addition to other forms of treatment such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy or targeted therapy. These options will be discussed with you at your preoperative appointment. The earlier the detection and diagnosis of oral cancer, the increased chances of a positive outcome. Therefore, if you feel like you are experiencing any of the symptoms discussed here, contact the team at Estudillo Oral Surgery today!