Cancer, it’s a word many of us dread and about 36,000 Americans it will be diagnosed with it each year. The sad truth is that of that amount only half with be alive just five years after initial diagnosis.
All cancers are cause for concern, but oral cancer is particularly serious. For your best chances at survival, it needs to be diagnosed and treated early on. If left untreated, oral cancer can be aggressive and spread to the lungs or lymph nodes.
Sadly, once the disease has spread it becomes resistant to treatment and can be deadly.
What makes it worse is that oral cancer can be hard to detect. So, regular check ups – 6 months or annually, are helpful. Sometimes people don’t find out they have cancer until it’s too late to treat. This is because it isn’t always symptomatic.
It’s important to know the warning signs and pay attention to them. Check with your doctor if you experience the following: a lump on or near the mouth, bleeding mouth sores, difficulty swallowing or chewing or mouth and lip tenderness. Hoarseness or a change in your voice is also a warning sign you should note.
Often patients that have oral cancer are smokers, heavy drinkers or chew tobacco. This isn’t the case with everyone, however. It has been known to occur in people who don’t follow the established behavior patterns that make you prone to getting the disease.
Cancer is serious and potentially deadly so, do what you can to prevent it. See your dentist on a regular basis and request an oral exam. This is especially important if you are over 45.
Always stay away from tobacco products and limit your alcohol use, as well. A healthy diet and limiting exposure to the sun will all help you avoid getting oral cancer. It’s easier to take these precautions than to hope you find and treat the disease before it becomes fatal.