Facts and Signs of Oral Cancer

Posted on 18 Apr
Oral Health & Overall Wellness

With an estimated 54,000 new cases of oral cancer to be diagnosed in the United States in 2022, our doctors at Dental Associates pledge to monitor our patients for signs of oral cancer at each routine exam. If you have never had an oral cancer examination, there is no better time to schedule one than during Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April!

What Is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is a form of head and neck cancer that develops in one or more of the structures of the mouth. Risk factors include tobacco use (both smoke and smokeless forms), heavy alcohol consumption, and infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV).

Oral Cancer by the Numbers

  • More than 90 percent of oral cancers occur in areas exposed to tobacco.
  • Oral cancers are among the four most commonly occurring cancers in men and women in the United States.
  • Oral cancer is one of the top 10 causes of death due to cancer worldwide.
  • Two men for every woman are diagnosed with oral cancer.
  • Every hour someone dies from oral cancer, however, if it is detected and treated early on, survival rates increase.

Signs of Oral Cancer

The overall commonality of all symptoms is they are persistent and not resolving.

  • Pain in the mouth
  • Facial swelling
  • Difficulty moving or opening the mouth
  • Any sore or ulceration that does not heal within 14 days
  • Pain in any tooth
  • A red, white, or black discoloration of the soft tissues of the mouth
  • Discomfort with eating or drinking acidic or hot foods
  • Any abnormality that bleeds easily when touched
  • Loose teeth or other dental problems
  • A lump or hard spot in the tissue, usually the border of the tongue
  • A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, which has been there for at least two weeks

Oral Cancer Treatment

As with most cancers, treatment of oral cancers involves surgeons, oncologists, dentists, and rehabilitation and restorative specialists. In early stages, surgeons can remove the tumor and any cancerous lymph nodes. Depending on your stage or severity, radiation and/or chemotherapy may be used to kill cancer cells. Nutrition is also an important piece of treatment by choosing foods that will be gentle on the mouth and throat. 

Oral Cancer Screening

During an oral cancer screening exam, your dentist exams the inside of your mouth to check for red or white patches or mouth sores. They will also feel the tissues in your mouth as well as your throat and neck to check for lumps or other abnormalities.

Screening for changes in the mouth, tongue, gums, and throat is essential to diagnose problems early. Additionally, knowing your family history may help you detect the disease at an earlier stage. If in doubt, get it checked out!


Need your oral cancer screening? Schedule an appointment today!

More information about oral cancer from Dental Associates

Oral Cancer

Tobacco & Oral Health

Oral Cancer Signs