There are several symptoms of oral cancer one can experience. According to WebMD, persistent sores on the neck, mouth, or face that bleed easily and fail to heal within two weeks, a change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together, velvety white, red, or white and red patches inside the mouth, and unexplained pain, tenderness, numbness, or loss of feeling anywhere in the mouth, neck, or face are all symptoms of oral cancer.
According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, those with oral cancer may also have loose teeth, persistent bad breath, and teeth or jaw pain.
If you have oral cancer, you may also experience a change in voice, hoarseness, or a chronic sore throat. Significant weight loss, ear pain, throat soreness or the feeling that something is caught in the back of your throat, unexplained bleeding in your mouth, and difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your tongue or jaw are other signs you may have oral cancer. Swelling, lumps, bumps, eroded areas, crusts, or rough spots on your gums, lips, or other areas inside your mouth can also indicate the presence of cancer.
Preventing Oral Cancer
Many factors can raise your risk of developing oral cancer. According to Healthline, a family history of oral cancer, a previous diagnosis of the condition, being male, having the human papillomavirus (HPV), chewing betel nuts, and chronic exposure to the sun without protection put you at greater risk of developing oral cancer. Individuals who have certain genetic disorders, such as Fanconi anemia and Dyskeratosis congenita are also at higher risk of developing the condition, according to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
Using tobacco also increases your risk of developing the condition. This includes chewing tobacco as well as smoking cigars, pipes, and cigarettes. Individuals who use alcohol and tobacco heavily are at even great risk, according to Healthline.
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While you cannot change your family history or genetic makeup, there are some things you can do to prevent oral cancer. Avoid chewing betel nuts, and don’t smoke or use any tobacco products. Drink alcohol in moderation, and when you do drink, don’t binge drink. Limiting your exposure to the sun will also help you prevent oral cancer. When you do go out into the sun, wear sunscreen specifically formulated for your face and lips to protect your face from the sun’s harmful rays.
WebMD also recommends using a bright light and a mirror to examine your mouth for signs of oral cancer periodically. Call your dentist right away if you notice any changes in your mouth’s appearance or have other signs and symptoms of oral cancer. Visiting your dentist regularly and asking for an oral cancer screening is also recommended, as dentists are often the first to detect oral cancer. An early diagnosis can lead to better treatment outcomes for those who have the condition.