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Oral Cancer: Signs to Watch For

Cancer. It’s a word no one wants to hear when it comes to themselves or a loved one. You probably already know that early detection is key when it comes to treating cancer most effectively. Oral cancer is no exception; the sooner you catch it and receive treatment, the better your chances of surviving and thriving afterward. Take a look at this list of oral cancer signs and if any of them look familiar, make an appointment with your dentist right away.

Sores or Red or White Patches

Most of the time, a sore in your mouth is due to a burn or trauma, like biting the inside of your cheek. Occasionally, however, a sore or a red or white patch can be caused by oral cancer. If you have any type of sore, lesion, or patch that doesn’t clear up on its own within two weeks, make an appointment with your dentist to have it evaluated.

Numbness or Tenderness

If you have pain, numbness, or tenderness in any part of your mouth, face, or neck, you should have it checked. Oral cancer includes the facial and neck regions, so any of these places can be evaluated by your dentist.

Lumps or Bumps

Keep in mind that many lumps and bumps in the mouth or on your face or neck are harmless; with that being said, if you notice any bumps or lumps that weren’t there before and that don’t go away within a week or so, it’s a good idea to have them checked.

Trouble With Function

One sign of cancer is simply a loss of function in one or more areas. For example, you might find that your dentures no longer fit or that your teeth are no longer fitting together the way they used to. You might also have the feeling of a lump in your throat and find it hard to swallow. If your chewing, swallowing, or speaking is being impacted, make a prompt appointment with your dentist to find out why.

Being aware of the signs of oral cancer as well as not smoking (or quitting if you do smoke), following a healthy diet, and going to the dentist every six months for checkups can minimize your chances of developing cancer that spreads. Remember that early detection is key and report any problems to your dentist right away.