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Posted on: November 21, 2022
A South Hampton Roads Oral Surgeon Can Help You With Oral Cancer
When you see your general dentist for a checkup, your mouth is screened for oral cancer. This is important because oral cancer is a serious condition that requires attention as soon as possible. Through raising awareness, oral cancer has been on the decline for the past 30 years. People are gaining a better understanding of what causes oral cancer and that getting treatment right away significantly raises your chances of overcoming it.
Despite this drop in oral cancer cases, there were still 54,000 new cases of oral cancer reported in 2022. Of these new cases, the gums, tonsils, and tongue were most likely to develop oral cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Let’s raise awareness for oral cancer further. We’ll discuss what oral cancer is, the symptoms of it and possible treatment options if you have it. In case of oral cancer, knowledge is power. If you think that you already have oral cancer, don’t wait to reach out to your South Hampton Roads oral surgeon for help.
What Is Oral Cancer?
As the name suggests, oral cancer is a type of cancer that’s found in the mouth. In fact, this is why so many people simply refer to oral cancer as mouth cancer. It can affect any area of the mouth, including the gums, jaw, or cheeks.
All too often, oral cancer goes untreated for a long time, allowing it to spread throughout the mouth. This is because oral cancer tends to be hard to diagnose or recognize without help from a dental professional. The early signs of oral cancer tend to be mild and are usually mistaken for other oral health problems.
Thankfully, you can catch oral cancer in its early stages by visiting your South Hampton Roads general dentist twice a year. During regular checkups, your dentist will screen your mouth for cancer. If it is detected, you’ll be referred to an oral surgeon for treatment.
Detecting Oral Cancer
The best way to detect oral cancer is with the help of a dental professional. Only via a professional screening can you be diagnosed with mouth cancer. That being said, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of oral cancer so that you know when to go get a screening. If you spot these symptoms in between dental visits, you should schedule an appointment to get checked out.
One of the first symptoms that you’re likely to notice is mouth sores that won’t heal. If you have a mouth sore that hangs around for longer than three weeks, you should make an appointment with your dentist to have it looked at. Sores that don’t heal could be a sign of mouth cancer.
Every so often, check the inside of your mouth for white or red patches of skin. These color changes could be an early warning sign of cancer as well. You can use your tongue to feel around the inside of your mouth for rough patches of skin too. These rough patches of skin should be looked at by a professional.
The Causes of Oral Cancer
Next, it’s important to know what causes oral cancer. The truth is that some of your lifestyle choices could be increasing your risk. That said, there are some risk factors that you have no control over.
For example, gender plays a big role in the development of oral cancer. Men are much more likely to get it than women. Additionally, the risk of getting oral cancer goes up as you age. Thus, men over the age of 45 are already at a higher risk of getting oral cancer.
There are, however, some risk factors that you can control. For instance, the American Cancer Society says that two of every three cases of oral cancer are directly linked back to tobacco usage. Thus, if you use any form of tobacco, whether it’s smoking or chewing, you’re significantly increasing your risk of getting oral cancer.
Heavy drinking is another issue that can lead to the development of oral cancer. While the link between oral cancer and heavy drinking isn’t as strong as the link between oral cancer and tobacco, it’s still there. Dental experts say that heavy drinking typically includes having at least 21 alcoholic drinks in a single week.
It’s worth keeping in mind that mixing risks together further exacerbates the problem. If you drink heavily and use tobacco, you’re increasing the likelihood of getting oral cancer nearly six fold.
How Is Oral Cancer Treated?
There’s no single process for treating cancer. The type of treatment that you receive will depend on the type of oral cancer that you have, as well as how quickly you can get treatment.
For example, if your oral cancer is found quickly, treatment might be as simple as cutting out the affected area. If you wait too long to get treatment, you might have to undergo other cancer treatment options, such as chemotherapy.
The good news is that you don’t have to determine the best course of treatment alone. Your South Hampton Roads oral surgeon will talk to you about your options and help you determine the best treatment option for your situation.
Preventing Oral Cancer
The best way to prevent oral cancer is to have a healthy lifestyle and, of course, to visit your dentist regularly for screenings. While there’s no foolproof way to prevent oral cancer, though, eating right can help. Studies show that eating a diet rich in omega-3s is a great starting point. In addition, you should start eating more vegetables and fruit.
Of course, the best thing that you can do is give up on using tobacco if you use it. The reason is that tobacco is one of the leading causes of oral cancer. Also, you should avoid drinking heavily if you consume 21 alcoholic drinks a week. Simply cutting out these two habits can go a long way in preventing the development of oral cancer.
If you think that you have oral cancer, schedule an appointment to come see us. Our South Hampton Roads oral surgeon can diagnose and treat it. We are standing by to help you.