Oral cancer results from abnormal cell growth on the mouth, lips, tongue and/or throat. Here’s what you should know about this disease, which approximately 5,400 Canadians are diagnosed with every year.
Smoking and chewing tobacco products and consuming an excessive amount of alcohol are the main risk factors for oral cancer, especially if these behaviours are combined.
Some other risk factors for this disease include:
A diet low in fruits and vegetables
Prolonged and repeated sun exposure
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
A personal or family history of oral cancer
Additionally, people over the age of 40 have a higher risk of oral cancer, and men are about twice as likely as women to develop this disease.
The most common signs of oral cancer are persistent pain in the mouth and an ulcer or sore in the mouth or on the lips that doesn’t heal. Here are other common signs:
White or red patches on the lips or in the mouth
A lump or growth in the mouth or on the lips or tongue
Bleeding in the mouth or swelling of the jaw
Numbness in the mouth, or changes in taste or tongue sensation
Difficulty swallowing and slurred speech
Speak with your dentist or another health-care professional right away if you experience any of these symptoms.
Get Screened During Every Check-Up
Oral cancer screening is a key component of a routine dental exam. Your family dentist will feel for lumps and irregular changes in your mouth, neck and face. In addition to checking for signs of tooth decay and gum inflammation, your dentist will look for sores, discoloured mouth tissue and other oral cancer symptoms. You may also be asked about your health and medical history.
Take These Steps for Prevention
Since oral cancer often causes symptoms early, it’s important to be aware of the signs to ensure rapid diagnosis and treatment of this disease. There are also several measures you can take to reduce your risk of oral cancer, such as:
Avoid smoking and chewing tobacco products
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
Schedule regular dental exams and cleanings
Use lip balm with SPF and limit sun exposure
Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables
You should also regularly check for signs of oral cancer, and let your dentist know about any changes or irregularities in your mouth.
Schedule a Visit With Your Family Dentist in SE Calgary!
At Forest Lawn Dental Centre, we’re committed to helping you maintain your oral health. If you have any questions about oral cancer or your risk factors for the disease, Dr. Sandhu and his friendly team will be happy to speak with you. Contact us today to book your next dental exam and cleaning at our SE Calgary clinic!