Understanding & Preventing Oral Cancer

April 05, 2022

In 2022, approximately 54,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer — which is also referred to as mouth cancer, throat cancer, tongue cancer, and tonsil cancer. 

When oral cancer is detected at an early stage, it can have a high survival rate of 80% to 90%. But unfortunately, there is not enough public awareness about the symptoms of oral cancer, and the majority of diagnoses are for late-stage cancer, which has a five-year survival rate of around 60%. 

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and dental professionals play an essential role in helping educate patients and identifying the early signs of the disease. 

Risk Factors and Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is divided into two categories, those occurring in:

    The oral cavity (lips, teeth, gums, cheek lining, the front of the tongue, and the floor and roof of the mouth)

    The oropharynx (the middle region of the throat, including the base of the tongue and the tonsils)

Common symptoms of oral cancer include: 

    Persistent soreness or irritation 

    Pain, sensitivity, or numbness in the mouth or lips

    Red or white patches in the mouth or throat

    Difficulty speaking, chewing, or swallowing

    Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue 

    Throat soreness, numbness, hoarseness, or a change in voice 

    A rough spot, lump, or thickening in the mouth 

    A change in the way the teeth fit together when the mouth is closed

Several factors increase the risk of developing oral cancer, including smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV). Men are twice as likely to get oral cancer than women. Around 10% of people diagnosed with oral cancer do not have an identified risk factor.

Preventing Oral Cancer

Patients should be aware of the risk factors associated with oral cancer and avoid smoking, excessive drinking, and eating an unhealthy diet. Oral cancer has a strong link to HPV. The CDC recommends that children receive the HPV vaccination at 11 or 12 years old. 

Regular dental hygiene and check-ups are also crucial in detecting cancer early and providing better outcomes. A thorough dental check-up examines the oral cavity, throat, roof of the mouth, tongue, tonsils, jaw, and neck. 

Supply Clinic is proud to support the dental community. Our patient-first policies like robust customer service and strict no grey-market policies allow dentists a trustworthy source for the dental supplies they need to treat patients and help prevent certain types of oral cancer.

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