Did you know that approximately 36,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society? Unfortunately, nearly 7,000 of them will die from the disease.
Oral cancer has a higher death rate because it is often not caught until it has spread elsewhere in the body.
Vigilance on the patient’s part is a major factor in achieving positive outcomes following an oral cancer diagnosis. If you are able to spot concerning symptoms early, the disease will respond better to treatment, and it will be less likely to metastasize.
The inside of the oral cavity is lined with a type of tissue known as mucosa, which is generally smooth and pink when it is healthy. Any of the tissues in the mouth, including the tongue and bone tissue in the jaw, can develop a malignancy.
Patients should regularly examine their mouths for problematic spots. Here are some signs that can indicate a problem:
- Sores that bleed easily and do not heal in a timely fashion
- A lump on the tongue or elsewhere on the inside of the mouth.
- Red patches or white patches that have an unusual appearance and don’t resolve with time.
Additionally, difficulty in chewing or swallowing or a persistent sore throat can be a sign of oral cancer, so be sure to mention this symptom to your oral surgeon, too.
Keep in mind that any of these symptoms can result from a number of other conditions, as well, so don’t panic that you have oral cancer simply because you’ve had a sore throat for a few days. Even so, it’s in your best interests to be evaluated to rule out cancer.
If you do notice a suspicious growth or lesion, an oral surgeon can take a sample of the tissue to be biopsied. In cases when growths are determined to be malignant, the oral surgeon can give you guidance on treatment and work with the oncologist if any advanced surgery is needed to remove the tumor or if reconstructive surgery is needed after the cancer is treated. Contact our office to learn more about our services related to oral pathology.