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Can I Tell If I Have Oral Cancer?
Posted on 5/8/2023 by Dr. Michael Allard
No one wants to hear a doctor or dentist say the word cancer. If you want to prevent cancer, you can take preventative action. Check-in with your doctor or dentist each year. Dentists are often asked about oral cancer because oral cancer is treatable if you catch it early. Are there warning signs that you may have oral cancer? Keep reading for additional information about oral cancer.
About Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is relatively rare. Only 3% of all cancers are oral cancer. Doctors and dentists diagnose about 53,000 people with oral cancer each year, and around 12,000 people die from oral cancer yearly. Oral cancer can appear along your gum line, tongue, cheek, or soft palate.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
It can be difficult to find symptoms of oral cancer. You should get tested for oral cancer if you have risk factors. The symptoms of oral cancer in the early stages look much like other dental issues. People with oral cancer may have a sore in their mouth that won't heal or a red or white bump in the mouth.
Some mouth cancer patients report swollen lymph nodes and pain in the ears, mouth, or face. You also may have pain or trouble when you swallow.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
The greatest risk factor for oral cancer is using tobacco. If you smoke, vape, or chew tobacco, you are at a higher risk for oral cancer than non-tobacco users. People who quit using tobacco are still at risk for years after quitting. Luckily, if you are honest with your dentist about your tobacco use, there are oral examinations and cancer screenings they can perform to detect oral cancer. The earlier you get a diagnosis, the more likely the cancer is treatable.