April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

added on: April 12, 2021

When it comes to our health, nobody wants to hear the big ‘C’ word — Cancer. While this disease can affect anywhere in the body, one of the harder types of cancer to diagnose early is oral cancer. However, early diagnosis is key to treating oral cancer successfully and increasing survival rates. So during this Oral Cancer Awareness Month, your dentist in Rocky Mount wants to make sure that everyone knows how to identify oral cancer and what to do if you see something concerning. 

What to Look For

One of the hardest parts of catching oral cancer is that many of the signs can also be symptoms of other non-serious things. There is, however, one sign that should cause concern and should warrant a call to your dentist in Rocky Mount — if symptoms like these don’t go away after two or three weeks: 

  • Chronic cough
  • Changes in voice 
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • An earache on one side 
  • A hard lump in the soft tissues
  • Swollen tonsil on one side without pain
  • A painless lump on the outside of the neck
  • Any sore that doesn’t heal itself within 2 weeks
  • Discoloration in the mouth including a red, white, or black appearance

Check Your Mouth, Save Your Life

Even though oral cancer can be deadly, it can also be treated very successfully. The key to beating oral cancer is to catch it early and get it treated quickly. Regular visits to your dentist in Rocky Mount can help monitor your oral health for any changes or any areas that may be a concern. But there are things you should do at home in between visits to help. Head over to checkyourmouth.org/ for more information about at-home oral cancer exams. 

Preventing Oral Cancer

Anyone can get oral cancer. However, there are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of someone developing the disease. 

  • Age: Historically, oral cancer is most common in those 50 or older.
  • Tobacco Use: 80% of those who get oral cancer smoke cigarettes or cigars, or use smokeless tobacco.
  • Drinking Alcohol: Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers. 
  • Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women. This may be because men are also more likely to drink alcohol and use tobacco.  

This Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and all year round, make a commitment to yourself and your health to check your mouth for signs of oral cancer, see your dentist in Rocky Mount every six months, and quit anything that can put you at increased risk.