Oral cancer ranks in the top three of all cancers in India, which accounts for over thirty per cent of all cancers reported in the country and oral cancer control is quickly becoming a global health priority. Dentists look for early warning signs and symptoms of oral cancer during their regular checkup appointments, but it’s also important for you to recognize these oral cancer symptoms so you can bring them to the attention of your dentist right away.
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Your mouth, tongue, and throat can give you an indication that something needs your attention.
Let’s have a look at the early symptoms of oral cancer. And because early detection is crucial in overcoming this disease, you’ll want to visit your doctor immediately if any of the following symptoms persist for more than two weeks-
Symptoms of Oral Cancer / Mouth Cancer
Ulcers That Do Not Heal
A broken area of skin (ulcer) that doesn’t heal is one of the most common symptoms of oral cancer. This is not always painful.
Persistent Discomfort or Pain in the Mouth
Ongoing pain or discomfort in the mouth is the other most common symptom of oral cancer.
White or Red Patches in the Mouth or Throat
An abnormal looking patch in the mouth could be a symptom of oral cancer or precancerous changes.
Difficulty in Swallowing
Mouth cancer can cause pain or a burning sensation when chewing and swallowing food. Or you may feel that your food is sticking in your throat. Difficulty in swallowing can also be caused by other conditions such as a harmless narrowing of the food pipe (esophagus). If you have this symptom it is important to see your doctor and get it treated.
Cancer in your mouth or throat can affect your voice. Your voice may sound different. It may be quieter, husky, or sound as if you have a cold all the time. Or you may slur some of your words or have trouble pronouncing some sounds.
A Lump in the Neck
You may have a lump in your neck caused by an enlarged lymph node. Swelling of one or more lymph nodes in the neck is a common symptom of oral cancer (mouth and oropharyngeal cancers.
A hot, red, painful lump usually means an infection, rather than cancer. Lumps that come and go are not usually due to cancer either. Cancer usually forms a lump that slowly gets bigger.
Weight loss is a common symptom of many cancers. With mouth or oropharyngeal cancer, you may eat less due to mouth pain or because it is difficult for you to swallow. Extreme weight loss may be a sign of advanced cancer. See your doctor if you have lost 10lbs or more in a short time and you are not dieting.
Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Most people have bad breath at some time in their life and it is not a symptom of oral cancer. But if you have cancer, bad breath may be worse and happen more often because of your illness.
Some Other Symptoms of Oral Cancer:
- A lump or thickening on the lip
- A lump in the mouth or throat
- Unusual bleeding or numbness in the mouth
- Loose teeth for no apparent reason
- Difficulty in moving the jaw
What Can I do to Prevent Oral Cancer?
- The smartest thing you’ll do to safeguard yourself from carcinoma is to avoid tobacco in all forms— — it’s to blame for 90 percent of all oral cancers. Whether you use cigarettes, pipes, cigars, “herbal” cigarettes, snuff, or chewing tobacco, you’re at increased risk. If you believe that smokeless tobacco is safe, then you should read this:[ctt template=”5″ link=”t3f8e” via=”no” ]Users of smokeless tobacco are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than those who smoke[/ctt]
- If you drink a lot of alcohol, your risk jumps even higher. Heavy alcohol use by itself increases the risk of oral cancer, but when paired with smoking it packs a double whammy. If you stop smoking and cut way back on your alcohol consumption, you’ve greatly reduced your risk of oral cancer.
- Cancer of the lips can result from too much sun exposure. If you’re going to be out in the sun, use a lip balm with sunscreen and wear a hat. The risk of lip cancer also increases with — you guessed it — smoking.
- Some types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) can infect the mouth and throat. These viruses are passed through sexual contact. HPV infection is linked to cancer at the base of the tongue, the back of the throat, in the tonsils, and in the soft palate.
- Finally, one of the best things you can do to prevent oral cancer is to visit your dentist regularly. They can spot any suspicious skin changes in your mouth before they become a huge problem. Eating a balanced diet is important as well. Some studies say that your risk of developing oral cancer increases if your daily diet plan does not embrace fruits and vegetables.
Oral cancer is serious. Arm yourself with the warning signs, keep a keen look at the symptoms of oral cancer, have regular checkups, avoid tobacco and other risk factors, and you have an excellent chance of avoiding it altogether.
Feel free share your doubts and problems regarding oral issues in the comments section and share the information with your family and friends to keep them miles away from oral cancer.