Oral cancer often goes undiagnosed until the symptoms are severe. There are treatments that can help you beat this form of cancer, but your health and longevity are in danger until it’s detected. Your chances of survival plummet the longer you wait to have an oral cancer screening.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Our dentists in Summerlin want you to know what steps you can take to prevent oral cancer and how to recognize signs you need to go to the dentist.
Preventing Oral Cancer
There are specific characteristics that can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. Men in general are more at risk than women, but men over the age of 50 are the most likely group. Now, you can’t change your genetics, but you can avoid these risk factors:
- Smoking cigars or tobacco
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Chewing tobacco
- Long-term sun exposure
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is usually associated with cervical cancer, but some HPV strains make you 30 times more likely to develop oral cancer. If you have a history of cancer in your family, you could be more susceptible to oral cancer as well.
Regular Cancer Screenings And Dental Exams
The best way to prevent and detect oral cancer is through regular cancer screenings with Drs. Chin . These screenings involve looking and feeling for irregular tissue changes and lumps in your mouth as well as your neck, head and face.
Our dentists will search for discoloration, sores and other symptoms associated with oral cancer. If they see any abnormalities, they’ll most likely take a tissue sample to check the cells for cancer. A scalpel biopsy is another option for suspicious tissue.
You can take measures into your own hands by doing a self-exam once a month at home. Use these steps to check for changes in your mouth, throat, neck and face:
- Stand in front of a mirror in a well-lit area.
- Look and feel along the front of your gums and inside your lips for bumps and patches of discoloration and sores that don’t heal.
- Lean your head back so you can look and feel the roof of your mouth, inside your cheeks and the back of your gums. You’re looking for irregularities in texture, color and any changes you may notice.
- Check the floor of your mouth and all sides of your tongue for the same signs mentioned above.
- Feel up and down the sides of your neck and under your jaw for swollen lymph nodes and lumps.
If you notice any changes in your mouth or recognize any symptoms of oral cancer, call Drs. Chin in Summerlin immediately at (702) 445-7075 to schedule your cancer screening. Our office serves patients in Summerlin, Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada.