5 things to know about oral cancer

Everyone is at risk for oral cancer, so your dentist should do an oral cancer screening every six to twelve months to catch any problems early on.  To help protect yourself, know what signs to look for and make changes to a high risk lifestyle. A dentist talks about the one change that might surprise you.

Information Text:

Dr. Jin Cho, Glendale Dental Associates: “It’s important when you see your dentist that you do ask them that they are performing an oral cancer screening/exam at every visit, if you notice something in your mouth that you let you dentist know, and finally, I think it’s important if a lesion doesn’t heal that it should be further looked at and the only way to determine if it is truly oral cancer is to have a biopsy performed.  It can be a potentially deadly disease if it’s not caught early and treated. Basically, I like to start with the lips and then work my way into the mouth.  I’m looking around the tongue.  I’m looking in the roof of the mouth, the floor of the mouth, back in the throat area. If I find something suspicious looking, I usually advise patients to return in about 2 weeks for another evaluation.  And then if it still looks highly suspicious, I usually recommend patients to go see an oral surgeon or an ENT physician to get it evaluated and potentially even biopsied.  Everyone is at risk, but if you’re a smoker, drinker, malnourished… you tend to be at risk of getting oral cancer; over the age of 40, men tend to get it at a high risk--3 to 1 compared to females.  2 drinks per day per male—you are at higher risk; one drink per day, for females, you are at higher risk.  25% of the cases every year are from people who don’t have any risk factors. There has been a link with the HPV virus and the patients that get oral cancer, so I think it’s important to understand that there is a link, but not an actual cause, but if you can practice safe sex, I think that would be very beneficial.”

Angie’s List Tips:

37,000 oral cancer cases diagnosed each year

Look for: Sores that don’t heal in 2 weeks

  Lumps, red or white patches

  Difficulty swallowing/chewing

Biopsy should be performed by dentist, oral surgeon, or ENT

High risk factors:  smoking; drinking alcohol daily; malnutrition; over 40; unprotected sex

Link between oral cancer & HPV

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Rachel Hardy

Angie’s List videographer Rachel Hardy produces videos focused on home improvement tips and trends, health care issues, and pet services.

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