Five Potential Signs of Oral Cancer

Five Potential Signs of Oral Cancer

Cancer can strike most any part of your body, including the tissues in and around your mouth, which are grouped under oral cancer. More than 54,000 Americans will be diagnosed with some form of oral cancer this year, which is a number that’s large enough to cause you to sit up and take notice.

As with all cancers, early detection and intervention are key, which is why Dr. Mohammed Mansour and the dental team here at Plano Dental Distinction want to focus on the subject here.

In the following, we review five potential signs of oral cancer and why oral cancer screenings should play an important role in your routine health care.

1. Leukoplakia

If you develop a white or gray lesion, spot, or patch in your mouth, we call this a leukoplakia. These lesions tend to form in the soft tissues in your mouth, typically on your gums or under your tongue.

The appearance of leukoplakia doesn't necessarily mean cancer, but within 15 years of their appearance, about 3-17.5% of people will develop squamous cell carcinoma.

2. Red patches in your mouth

While leukoplakia presents as lighter-colored patches of skin, if you develop persistent red patches (redder than the surrounding tissues), it may be a sign of abnormal cellular changes in your mouth.

3. Slow-healing sores or ulcers

If you have a sore on your lip or inside your mouth that just doesn’t seem to heal, this, too, is a potential sign of an oral cancer. To put a more specific timeline to this, when we talk about “slow-healing,” we’re referring to open wounds that won't heal after 2-3 weeks.

Again, a slow-healing sore doesn’t necessarily mean that you have oral cancer, but something is amiss and we need to take a look.

4. Abnormal growths

Another sign of a potential problem are strange lumps in your mouth or neck that don’t go away. There can be many possible explanations for these developments, and oral cancer is one of them, which makes having us diagnose the issue important.

5. Loose teeth

If one or more of your teeth begin to loosen without any obvious explanation, such as gum disease or tooth decay, oral cancer is one possible cause.

Getting screened for oral cancer

While we list five of the more common signs of oral cancer above, there can be other, more subtle, signs that we can detect during an oral cancer screening.

Most oral cancers are highly treatable in their early stages, so recognizing the signs of a problem and undergoing routine screenings are important steps toward preserving your oral health.

When it comes to how often you should be screened for oral cancer, consider these statistics — the average age that someone is diagnosed with oral cancer is 63, but 20% of diagnoses occur in individuals under the age of 55.

Since oral cancer can develop at any age, we encourage you to have us screen you annually, which you can combine with your regular cleaning and/or dental exam with us.

For more information about oral cancer and how we can successfully screen for it, contact our office in Plano, Texas.

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