What you should know about oral cancer

Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world, accounting for 30,000 newly diagnosed cases and 8,000 deaths each year. If not diagnosed and treated in its early stages, oral cancer can spread, leading to chronic pain, loss of function, facial and oral disfigurement and even death.

Who gets oral cancer?
Anyone can get oral cancer, but heavy drinkers and people who smoke or use other tobacco products are at higher risk. Though it’s most common in people over age 50, new research indicates that younger people may develop oral cancers related to human papillomavirus (HPV).

Early detection can save lives
The earlier oral cancer is detected and treated, the better the survival rate. Regular dental checkups are covered at no cost under the TAMUS Delta Dental plans, so you can make sure you’re getting a professional’s help in avoiding cancer. As part of the exam, your dentist will check for oral cancer indicators, including feeling for lumps or irregular tissue in your mouth, head and neck. A biopsy will be recommended if anything seems concerning or out of the ordinary.

Warning signs of oral cancer
You should also perform your own self-examinations to check for early warning signs. Contact your dentist immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Sores that last longer than two weeks
  • Swelling, growths or lumps anywhere in or near your mouth or neck
  • White or red patches in your mouth or on your lips
  • Repeated bleeding from the mouth or throat
  • Difficulty swallowing or persistent hoarseness

Adapted from Delta Dental, for more information visit the Delta Delta Oral Cancer resource page.

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