What is Your Mouth Trying to Tell You About Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is a term that could be right on the tip of your tongue – literally. It also could be on the floor of your mouth, on your hard or soft palate, or on your lips.

The scary thing is that far too many people don’t realize they have oral cancer until it has reached an advanced stage. But there’s good news: staying current on your routine dental exams and teeth cleanings increases your chances of early diagnosis and treatment, says San Francisco cosmetic dentist
Dr. Robert Walley.

We’re shining a light on oral cancer today to educate you about this deadly disease and explain how
Dr. Walley screens for it. First, here are some facts provided by The Oral Cancer Foundation:

•  More than 45,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer annually and of those, nearly half will lose
    their lives to the disease within five years.

•  Oral cancer often goes undetected until it has spread to another location, such as lymph nodes
    or the neck.

•  The early stages of oral cancer frequently cause no pain or easily recognizable symptoms.

•  Most people diagnosed with oral cancer are older than age 40.

•  The number of people younger than age 40 who are diagnosed with oral cancer is growing
    due to the 
human papilloma virus number 16.  

•  More men than women are diagnosed with oral cancer.

Screening for Oral Cancer

If you’re a patient of Dr. Walley’s you can take comfort in knowing that you are screened for oral cancer at your routine dental visits. Dr. Walley looks closely inside your mouth for signs of asymmetry or surface abnormalities. He also palpates your neck to check for abnormalities.

 Tell Dr. Walley if you have any of the following symptoms:       

•  Any swelling or thickening, lumps, or scaly lesions on your lips or gums, or inside your mouth.

•  Velvety white, red, or splotchy areas inside your mouth.

•  Unexplained numbness, pain or tenderness on your face or neck, or inside your mouth.

•  Lingering sores on your face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and fail to heal within two weeks.

•  Throat soreness, or feeling as though you have something stuck in the back of your throat.

•  Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue.

•   Hoarseness or changes in your voice.


Oral Cancer Risk Factors 

Dr. Walley recommends that you be particularly diligent in having routine oral cancer screenings performed if you are a male, or if you have any of the following risk factors:

• Use of  tobacco  – including smokeless – products.

• Heavy alcohol use.

• Infected with HPV 16.

• History of heavy exposure to sunlight.

Oral cancer is highly treatable when diagnosed and treated early. Let’s work together to lower the oral cancer death rate.

 Please call our office if you have questions about oral cancer screenings or would like to schedule an appointment. You also can learn more about oral cancer by visiting The Oral Cancer Foundation’s website.