April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Every day 132 people are diagnosed with oral cancer. The Oral Cancer Foundation promotes awareness for oral cancer and early detection by partnering with various organizations to offer free screening during the month of April.

Oral Cancer Awareness

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth and appears as a growth or sore that does not go away. An estimated 48,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. The death rate associated with oral cancer is relatively high because of routinely late detection. Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women, and men over the age of 50 are at greater risk.

Symptoms

 Lingering teeth with no apparent dental cause
 Areas of red or white lesions in your mouth or lips
 Swelling that makes wearing dentures uncomfortable
 Sores, swellings, lumps or thick patches anywhere in or around your mouth or throat
 Unexplained numbness or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
 Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.

Risk Factors

 Smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes.
 Family history of cancer
 Excessive alcohol consumption
 Smokeless tobacco such as chewing tobacco products.

Tests/Diagnosis

 Oral cancer screening – an examination performed by a dentist or doctor to look for signs of cancer or precancerous growth in your mouth.
 Oral brush biopsy – a small sample of tissue is analyzed for cancerous cells.
 Scalpel biopsy – this test usually requires anesthesia and can be performed by a dentist or a specialist.

Treatment

Similar to most other cancer treatments:
 Surgery to remove the cancerous growth
 Followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy to terminate any remaining cancer cells

Oral Cancer Awareness

Prevention

 Practice daily oral hygiene by brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily
 Limit sun exposure
 Eat a well balanced diet
 Quit smoking/using tobacco products
 See your dentist regularly.

Sources:
Oral Cancer Foundation
Colgate
Web MD