Oral cancer information: What you need to know. Focus on smiles, general dentistry in Edmonton Alberta
General Dentist and Cosmetic Dental Services in Edmonton, Alberta
Most patients don’t want to think about cancer. But with oral cancer, as with most cancers, early detection is crucial for successful treatment and survival. For this reason, it’s good to be aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer.
Oral cancers begins with malignant cells in the mouth, but can also affect the throat, tongue and lips. Not all cellular changes are indicative of cancer; benign tumours, canker sores or other irritations are also a possibility.
Early symptoms of oral cancer include:
- A lump, sore or lesion that does not heal
- A chronic sore throat or hoarseness
- Pain in the jaw, tongue or roof of the mouth
- Swelling of the lips
- A toothache that doesn’t go away
- Loose teeth
- A feeling of a lump in the throat
- Pain while chewing or swallowing
- Red and/or white patches on the inside of the lips and cheeks
- White or gray patches in the mouth or on the tongue
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your dentist for a checkup. When you come in for regular cleanings and examinations, your dentist will screen you for oral cancer. Oral cancer screenings can detect precancerous cells or other abnormalities before symptoms present themselves. If you smoke, drink excessively, are frequently exposed to the sun, or have had the HPV virus, you could be at greater risk for developing oral cancer. At any rate, it’s important to maintain regular dental visits to ensure that if oral cancer is present, it is caught and can be treated as soon as possible.
If your dentist detects anything unusual during your check up, he or she might order a biopsy of the affected area. If precancerous cells are treated early, there is less chance that they will become malignant. In addition to helping prevent cavities and gum disease, dental checkups twice a year are an important cancer screening tool.