The Importance of Early Oral Cancer Detection and Symptoms You Can Look For
Oral cancer is a deadly killer in the United States, with nearly 12,000 deaths attributed to it in 2021. This makes having regular cancer screenings crucial. There are many signs that your dentist can see during a routine dental exam that can be viewed as an oral cancer symptom. Detecting oral cancer early will make the probability of successful treatment higher. Dr. Jonathan Titus at Titus Dentistry in Middletown, Indiana, Anderson, Pendleton, and Muncie performs oral cancer screenings for his patients as part of a routine examination or by appointment.
How Often Should You Be Screened for Oral Cancer?
It is recommended that you see your dentist twice a year for a scheduled dental examination and cleaning. During the examination, your dentist will look for trouble signs concerning your oral health, such as cavities, gum disease, etc. During this exam, your dentist will also be able to catch early signs of possible oral cancer. As part of your dental examination, your dentist is trained for this screening, and they know what the “red flags” of oral cancer are. As recommended, seeing your dentist every six months will be a good routine for you to follow, although there are no downsides to more frequent screening if you feel like you need it.
The Symptoms of Oral Cancer
When your dentist performs an examination, they will know what symptoms to look for, which could indicate early cancer development. The earlier these symptoms are caught, the better your chances for successful treatment. Seeing a dentist every six months means you could go months without ever knowing you may have developed oral cancer. This makes knowing the signs and symptoms very important. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you will want to see your dentist for a screening:
- Lumps or bumps which have developed in the mouth
- Sores which are not healing
- Patches in the mouth that are red, speckled, or velvety white in appearance
- Bleeding that is unexplained in the mouth
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness in the mouth which you cannot explain
- A feeling that something is caught at the back of the throat
- Troubles with swallowing, chewing, speaking, or movement of the tongue or jaw
- Chronic ear pain
- Drastic weight loss