Oral Cancer Symptoms: What to Watch For

The American Cancer Society states that 53,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer in 2019. It’s a serious condition that warrants attention and care. If you believe you have any oral cancer symptoms, it’s best to schedule a consultation with your dental specialist immediately to get treatment.

What Causes Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer can occur for a variety of reasons, including genetics. If you have family members who have had the condition previously, you are more at risk for developing it yourself.

The condition occurs when cells in the mouth or on the lips change or mutate. When the DNA of the cells change, they continuously grow and divide, even when healthy cells would die. Over time, they build up in an area of the mouth. This creates a tumor. In some cases, they can spread. What researchers don’t know is why this happens.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms?

A variety of symptoms can occur, and they can change from one person to the next. They can develop in any area of the mouth or oral cavity. This includes the lips, gums, the inner lining of the cheeks, the tongue, and the floor of your mouth. Some common symptoms include the following:

  • Any type of sore on the lips or in the mouth that doesn’t heal even after an extended period of time
  • A path inside the oral cavity that looks white or is a darker red in color than surrounding tissues
  • Loose teeth, especially when there is no obvious reason for it
  • Any type of growth or a lump that forms in the oral cavity
  • Pain, including mouth or ear pain, that is otherwise unexplained
  • Difficulty swallowing, a feeling of something being stuck in your throat

Take a few minutes to contact your dental team if you believe you have any of these symptoms or others you are not sure about.

What Makes You More at Risk for Developing Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can occur for many reasons, and sometimes it cannot be explained. However, certain circumstances can increase the likelihood of developing the condition. They include the following:

  • The use of any type of tobacco, including cigars, pipes, cigarettes, chewing tobacco or other products like this
  • Having a weakened immune system for any reason
  • Heavy use of alcohol especially on a consistent basis
  • Having human papillomavirus, or HPV, a type of sexually transmitted virus
  • Overexposure to the sun’s rays on the lips

It may be possible to prevent oral cancer from occurring by limiting alcohol and tobacco use. Protecting your skin from the sun can also help. Routine examinations from your dentist can also be at the forefront to helping you to reduce the risks.

Stay on Top of Any Oral Cancer Symptoms You Have — Schedule an Appointment

At Parke & Rogers Dentistry, we provide fast, reliable support to our patients. Your dental health is our priority. If you believe you have oral cancer symptoms or other worrisome dental needs, call us to schedule an appointment at 281-419-2632.