Common Signs of Oral Cancer
If something were wrong with your oral health, would you want to know? Of course you would, and you'd want your family members protected, too. When it comes to oral cancer, you should learn its common signs and how to protect yourself. Dr. Denise Perrotta, our Winston Salem, NC, dentist, performs oral cancer screenings as part of routine semi-annual examinations. Brief and painless, these simple checks may catch oral cancer at its earliest stages.
What are the signs of oral cancer?
The Oral Cancer Foundation says that almost 50,000 new cases of oral cancer (involving the tongue, gums, lips and back of the throat) are diagnosed annually in the US. Because many people are unaware that anything sinister is developing in their mouths, your Winston Salem dentist believes knowledge about oral cancer symptoms empowers her patients to take control of their oral health.
In fact, she educates individuals so they are more self-aware and can observe these symptoms of the malady that kills many Americans each year. Symptoms include:
- A persistent hoarseness of voice
- Pain in the soft or hard tissues of the mouth
- Ulcers or white/red patches on the oral mucosa which do not resolve
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Persistent bad breath
- Weight loss
- A change in dental bite or in the fit of a prosthetic such as a denture
- Numbness about the face
- Tooth mobility
Yes, the list is long, but Dr. Perrotta will partner with you in screening for oral cancer. Together, you can ensure your best dental and overall health.
Who develops oral cancer?
Male or female, rich or poor--all types of people develop oral cancer. However, some seem more at risk, especially:
- Men over the age of 40
- People exposed to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually-transmitted micro-organism
- Individuals who abuse alcohol
- Smokers or partakers of smokeless tobacco
- People with diets low in fruits and vegetables
Additionally, people with compromised immune systems seem prone to oral cancer.
Screening and treatment for oral cancer
When you see Dr. Perrotta for your routine examination, she'll inspect your mouth for signs of oral cancer. These areas include the back of your throat, under your tongue and the insides of your cheeks. Also, she'll palpate, or feel, the sides of your neck and the angle of your jaw, sites for numerous lymph nodes. And, she will ask you if you have been experiencing any pain, soreness or difficulty swallowing.
If she is concerned about an area of your mouth, she will refer you to your primary care physician. He or she may order a biopsy, or tissue sample, for analysis.
Doctors at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America say that early diagnosis of oral cancer leads to an 80 to 90 percent cure rate. So screening with your Winston Salem dentist is vital.
Contact the office
If it's time for your semi-annual examination, contact Dr. Perrotta in Winston Salem, NC, to schedule your appointment. Remember, knowledge empowers you to have years of happy smiles. Call (336) 760-9258.