Oral Cancer and Early Detection: What You Need to Know





By Therese Vannier, RDA/OMSA April 5, 2018

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, a time to increase awareness about the importance of catching oral cancer early. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, about 49,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral oropharyngeal cancer this year, and 9,750 will die of the disease. The mortality rate for this type of cancer is especially high because it’s usually discovered late in development. Here are a few steps you can take to detect the disease early and get the treatment you need.Oral Cancer Radiograph

Get an oral cancer screening

Regular screenings can be a matter of life and death. The first responder in this disease is your dental clinician, who usually performs a screen for cancer during your annual comprehensive exam. The problem is that only 64 percent of adults ages 18-64 had a dental visit in the past year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which means too many people are not getting the potentially lifesaving screening they need.

Adults typically skip visits to the dentist because of the expense, not having dental insurance, problems lining up childcare, or not being able to miss work. If you’ve skipped teeth cleanings because you don’t have the time or money, talk to your dentist about ways to make screenings more accessible.

Recognize the symptoms

You can also take a more active role in recognizing the early signs of oral cancer. Contact your dentist or physician immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • A sore or lesion in the mouth that doesn’t heal
  • Pain in the mouth that doesn’t go away
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
  • Constant bad breath
  • A lump in the cheek tissue
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
  • Numbness of the tongue, jaw, or other area of the mouth or face
  • Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly
  • Chronic hoarseness
  • Voice changes
  • A lump or mass in the neck
  • Weight loss

These symptoms can also be caused by things other than oral cancer. It’s important to see your dentist or physician if any of these conditions last more than two weeks so that the cause can be diagnosed and treated. If you don’t have any symptoms, regular dental visits are still important for early cancer detection and oral health.

You can help increase awareness of oral cancer by wearing a burgundy and ivory ribbon this month. And you can protect yourself and your family from this disease by visiting your dentist regularly and familiarizing yourself with the common signs and symptoms of oral cancer.

[gravityform id=2 title=false description=false ajax=true tabindex=49]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_2' ><div id='gf_2' class='gform_anchor' tabindex='-1'></div><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_2' id='gform_2' action='/oral-cancer-early-detection/#gf_2'> <div class='gform_body'><ul id='gform_fields_2' class='gform_fields left_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id='field_2_6' class='gfield gravityFormEmail gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_2_6' >First Name<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_6' id='input_2_6' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='49' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_2_7' class='gfield gravityFormEmail gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_2_7' >Last Name<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_7' id='input_2_7' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='50' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_2_8' class='gfield gravityFormEmail gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_2_8' >Practice Name<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_8' id='input_2_8' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='51' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_2_11' class='gfield gravityFormEmail gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_2_11' >Phone<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_phone'><input name='input_11' id='input_2_11' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='52' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_2_1' class='gfield gravityFormEmail gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_2_1' >Email address:<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_1' id='input_2_1' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='53' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id='field_2_2' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_hidden' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_2_2' >utm_campaign</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_2' id='input_2_2' type='text' value='' class='medium' tabindex='54' aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_2_3' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_hidden' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_2_3' >utm_source</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_3' id='input_2_3' type='text' value='' class='medium' tabindex='55' aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_2_4' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_hidden' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_2_4' >utm_content</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_4' id='input_2_4' type='text' value='' class='medium' tabindex='56' aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_2_5' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_hidden' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_2_5' >utm_medium</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_5' id='input_2_5' type='text' value='' class='medium' tabindex='57' aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_2_12' class='gfield gform_validation_container field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_2_12' >Email</label><div class='ginput_container'><input name='input_12' id='input_2_12' type='text' value='' /></div><div class='gfield_description' id='gfield_description__12'>This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.</div></li> </ul></div> <div class='gform_footer left_label'> <input type="image" src="https://www.zyris.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/submit-button-17.png" id="gform_submit_button_2" class="gform_button gform_image_button om-trigger-conversion" alt="Submit" tabindex="58" onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_2"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_2"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_2"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_2"]=true; jQuery("#gform_2").trigger("submit",[true]); }'> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=2&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=49' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_2' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='2' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_2' value='WyJbXSIsImQyMTNiNWE3MmNhZTQ4NWEwYWU2MGI4YjVhZjQ3YThjIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_2' id='gform_target_page_number_2' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_2' id='gform_source_page_number_2' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> </form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_2' id='gform_ajax_frame_2' title='This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.'></iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>jQuery(document).ready(function($){gformInitSpinner( 2, 'https://www.zyris.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_2').on('load',function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_2');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_2').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;var mt = parseInt(jQuery('html').css('margin-top'), 10) + parseInt(jQuery('body').css('margin-top'), 10) + 100;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_2').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_2').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_2').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_2').offset().top - mt); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_2').val();gformInitSpinner( 2, 'https://www.zyris.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [2, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_2'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_2').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_2').offset().top - mt);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [2]);window['gf_submitting_2'] = false;}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_2').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [2, current_page]);} );} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 2) {jQuery('#input_2_11').mask('(999) 999-9999').bind('keypress', function(e){if(e.which == 13){jQuery(this).blur();} } );} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).ready(function(){jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [2, 1]) } ); </script>
[if lte IE 8]
[if lte IE 8]