Oral cancer can occur in the lips, cheek lining, gums, or the lower or upper jaw. But by far, the most common sites are the floor of the mouth and the sides of the tongue. According to the National Cancer Institute, this type of cancer kills one American every hour.
Q: What can I do to prevent the spread of oral cancer?
A: Early detection offers the greatest chance of surviving this disease. A head and neck exam by a prosthodontist should be routinely done at each cleaning appointment. However, only one-third of all cases is found in the earliest stages when treatments are most effective.
Q: Who is most at risk?
A: Tobacco users are six times as likely to develop oral cancer. Eight out of every ten oral cancer patients smoke. 80 percent of people diagnosed with oral cancer drink over 21 alcoholic beverages weekly. Even if they don’t smoke or drink, people with oral human papilloma virus (HPV) history are at greater risk of developing oral cancer.
Q: What are the warning signs?
A: Warning signs may or may not include:
It never hurts to get a second opinion, call Dr. Huang at NOVA Premier Dental. Dr. Huang is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Maryland and on staff at Inova Fairfax Hospital, Department of Surgery.