Oral cancer refers to cancers of the soft tissues of the mouth and the pharynx, or the back of the throat. Those who smoke or drink alcohol heavily may be at an increased risk of developing oral cancer. HPV, or human papilloma virus, periodontal disease, increased age, sun exposure and a poor diet are also considered risk factors of oral cancer.
More than 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, and another 8,000 people die from it. The five year survival rate is just over 50 percent. Survival rates are highest when oral cancer is diagnosed and treated early. Regular dental exams give Dr. Afar an opportunity to examine your oral cavity for symptoms of oral cancers, but you should also be familiar with these symptoms so that you can have them further evaluated when necessary.
Symptoms of oral cancer include:
• A white or red patch in the mouth
• Sores, lumps or irritation on the lips or in the mouth or throat
• Difficulty chewing or swallowing
• Oral numbness
• Swelling of the jaw
• A sudden change in bite or in the way dentures fit
• Ear pain without hearing loss
• Throat discomfort
Although these symptoms can be associated with other dental health conditions, if they persist two or more weeks, a careful evaluation by our Los Angeles dental implants expert can identify the cause. Oral cancer is most treatable when it is identified and treated in its earliest stages.