Cancer is perhaps the most devastating disease of our time; every year, it claims millions of lives around the world. Despite advances in treatment and diagnosis, doctors are still struggling to beat cancer once and for all. That is why it is so important that everyone takes measure to protect their own health. By being aware of the signs of cancer and by being diligent about getting screened, you can increase the chances that you’ll catch cancer before it reaches an advanced stage. One form of this illness that many people don’t pay a lot of attention to is oral cancer; your family dentist in Fort Worth wants to take a moment to talk about this important topic.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
An estimated 50,000 people get diagnosed with oral cancer each year, and roughly 10,000 individuals die from this disease annually. While oral cancer isn’t the most prevalent or deadly cancer, it is still vital that everyone knows the risk factors for it, which include:
- Tobacco use. The majority of oral cancer cases have a direct connection with cigarettes or chewing tobacco.
- Heavy drinking. Since overconsumption of alcohol hinders the body’s ability to fight disease, it can contribute to the development of oral cancer.
- Excessive sun exposure. Too much time under UV lights may lead to melanoma on the lips.
- A poor diet. Balanced, complete nutrition can help to protect the entire body from cancer.
- The human papilloma virus. Certain types of HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease, have been linked to oral cancer.
- Age and gender. Oral cancer is most common among older men, but that may change as more and more younger people are exposed to HPV.
Stay Alert for Signs of Oral Cancer
Even if you believe you don’t have any of the risk factors for oral cancer, it is still important that you’re aware of signs that this disease may have gained a foothold in your body:
- Lumps or swelling anywhere in or around your mouth.
- Discoloration, especially in the form of red or white patches
- Strange bleeding or pain in the mouth
- Pain in any area of your face
- Unexplained changes to your voice
- A persistent cough or a long-lasting sore throat
- Trouble chewing, swallowing, or speaking
- Loose teeth that have no obvious dental cause
Get Screened for Oral Cancer!
Experts suggest that all adults get screened for oral cancer at least once a year. The process is quick and painless, and your dentist in Fort Worth may even include it as part of a routine exam. An expert performs a visual and tactile examination, looking for any signs that something is amiss in your mouth. If the screening reveals any areas for concern, you should head to a medical doctor for further testing.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month! We hope you’ll take this information to heart and set aside a few minutes to let a professional check you for signs that your smile — and the rest of your body — is in danger.
About the Dentist
Dr. John Boyd is your local dental expert. He is always eager to promote the overall health of his patients, which is why he recommends that everyone gets an oral cancer screening in Fort Worth annually. If it is time for your next screening, please contact our office at 817-882-8282.