The Truth About Oral Cancer
The most common risk factors are:
- Tobacco use
- Frequent high quantity alcohol consumption
- Constant sunlight exposure
- Habitual cheek or lip biting
- Poorly fitting dentures
Although 80 to 90 percent of oral cancers are found in people who use tobacco and/or drink alcohol excessively, 25 percent of oral cancers occur in people who have no risk factors at all.
Your dentist could very well be your number one soldier in the fight against oral cancer.
Statistics show that in about 10 percent of patients, dentists notice a problem area even before the patient does. During a regular dental check up, Dr. Ginn will examine your entire mouth, searching for a flat, painless, white or red spot or small sore.
Other signs of oral cancer can include:
- A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal.
- A color change of the oral tissues.
- A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust, or small, eroded area.
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips.
Two tests can determine if a trouble spot is cancerous:
Test 1 – Brush Biopsy
- Painless test performed on areas that look harmless or do not have a clear cause
- Can detect potentially dangerous cells in the early stages of the disease
Test 2 – Scalpel Biopsy
- Requires local anesthesia
- Usually performed on suspicious areas