Oral Cancer: Risks, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

The American Cancer Society reports over 56,000 cases of oral or orpharyngeal cancer were diagnosed in 2023. If you have a sore or a growth in your mouth that won’t go away, it could be a good idea to see a dentist for an oral cancer screening.

Cancerous growths can appear anywhere in the oral cavity, including the tongue, lips, hard or soft palate, throat, and even the sinuses. Early detection and treatment are crucial to positive outcomes, so if you notice any of these symptoms, contact a dentist to discuss them in detail.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Some of the most common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Velvety patches in your mouth. The patches may be red, white or speckled white and red.
  • Rough spots, lumps, swelling, thickening, bumps, crusts, or eroded areas in the mouth.
  • Sores on your face, neck, or mouth that won’t heal within two weeks. They also bleed easily.
  • Bleeding from your mouth that you cannot explain (i.e., you didn’t bite your cheek or tongue or lose a tooth).
  • A feeling that something is caught in the back of your throat.
  • Unexplained numbness in your neck, face, or mouth.
  • You have difficulty swallowing, chewing, moving your jaw, or speaking.
  • Persistent ear pain.
  • Chronic sore throat or a change in your voice.
  • Your dentures no longer fit properly.
  • Pain or swelling in your jaw.
  • Extensive weight loss.

Risk Factors for Developing Oral Cancer

Several factors can contribute to oral cancer, and tobacco use is the most common underlying cause. Moderate to heavy alcohol consumption can also increase a person’s risk of developing oral cancer.

Additional risk factors include:

  • Genetics
  • Excessive sun exposure to the lips
  • HPV
  • Being 50 or older
  • Being a man
  • Poor diet

Oral Cancer Diagnosis

Your dentist can screen for oral cancer during a regular dental exam. They can also inspect any lesions or address concerns you have upon request. Remember, seeking a professional opinion if you have any concerning symptoms or notice changes to your mouth, lips, or throat is a good idea.

Get a Professional Opinion in Pasadena, TX

Dr. Paul Covell, DDS, serves the greater Pasadena, TX, area. He has been practicing dentistry for decades and completed his training at the world-renowned Las Vegas Institute (LVI) for Advanced Dental Studies.

With his extensive experience and knowledge of facial anatomy, you can trust him to identify warning signs of oral cancer and guide you toward the right treatment.

Please contact our office today if you would like to arrange an appointment. You can reach us by phone at 713-943-9832.

Posted in: Oral Cancer

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