Your dental office emphasizes the importance of providing routine oral cancer screenings. Your dentist may be certified to detect and properly diagnose oral cancer. By detecting any abnormalities in your oral health early, it will help you get the treatment you need to either regress or eliminate the risk of developing a more serious oral health condition.

Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer can be found on the lips, tongue, gums or lining of the mouth or throat. Studies show it is responsible for the death of one adult American every hour. Early detection of oral cancer is crucial to its treatment success. For this reason, your dentist recommends an annual oral cancer screening. There are a number of oral cancer symptoms that start to appear early on, including:

• White or red patches in your mouth
• A mouth sore that won’t heal within two weeks
• Unexplained bleeding in your mouth
• A soreness of feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
• Problem or pain with swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue
• Lumps or swellings in or around your mouth
• Ear pain
• Dramatic weight loss

If you show any symptoms that last for more than a week and show no signs of regressing, schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately.

Oral cancer can happen to anyone, although research suggests that it is slightly more common in men. Those who smoke or use tobacco products are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancer. Oral cancer is also more likely to occur in those with genetic predisposition, prolonged sun exposure, or in those who drink alcohol excessively. However, it is important to note that anyone can get oral cancer.

Treatment success depends on the size, type and stage of the cancer. In most cases, small cancerous tumors are removed along with a small ring of healthy tissue that surrounded it and radiation or chemotherapy is then delivered to kill off any remaining cancerous cells.

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