Oral Cancer: Symptoms and Risk Factors

Oral cancers account for nearly 1.6 percent of cancer fatalities in the United States, and 3 percent of all diagnosed cancers. It is estimated that nearly 50,000 people in Minnesota and across the U.S will be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2017.

To call attention to the issue of oral cancer treatment and prevention, April has been named Oral Cancer Awareness Month in the U.S.

It’s important to receive oral cancer checks at your regular dental checkups, especially if you are at an elevated risk due to tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption or certain other factors (detailed below). The American Dental Association reports that early diagnosis of oral cancer “has the potential to have a significant impact on treatment decisions and outcomes.”

Common symptoms of oral cancer include the following. If you have any of these symptoms, call your dentist as soon as possible.

  • Pain in the mouth or ear
  • A lump in the neck
  • Persistent mouth sores
  • An unusual sore throat
  • Abnormal swallowing
  • Chronic hoarseness
oral cancer check

In its early stages, oral cancer is generally painless, and as a result, often goes undetected. This is why, at Glen Oaks Dental, your dentist and hygienist will complete a thorough and comprehensive cancer screening during every checkup. Early detection can be life-saving, and your dental care team is your best defense.

It’s never too late to prevent oral cancer. Tobacco use is one of the greatest risk factors (as well as many other forms of cancer), but it is also one of the most preventable. Whether you smoke or chew tobacco, quitting will reduce your risk for all cancers.

Similarly, heavy drinkers – defined as men who have an average of two or more drinks per day and women who have one or more drinks per day – are at an increased risk, especially those who also use tobacco. Poor nutrition and excessive exposure to sunlight may also increase your cancer risk.

If you’re concerned about oral cancer, please contact us to schedule an appointment. At Glen Oaks Dental, we care about your oral health! We take a comprehensive approach to dental care, helping you to develop a personalized plan based on your health history and dental health goals.

If you would like to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive examination, please call us at 763-786-8460 or visit glenoaksdental.com.

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  • "I had a good experience again. I felt the hygienist did an excellent cleaning, seemed very knowledgeable, and was very pleasant. Dr. Bejarano is always friendly but professional. Although I only have come here the past year, I feel the difficult work that needed to be done was done well and my mouth feels good."
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    Andrew Jurek