Oral Cancer Symptoms
Oral cancer is one of the most aggressive types of cancer, and it is more common than many people realize. The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that around 54,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Early diagnosis is key to the successful treatment of this disease.
At Artistic Expressions Dentistry, Dr. Bruce Wilderman performs oral cancer screenings to look for abnormalities in the soft tissues of the mouth, jawline, face, or neck. Screenings are essential to our Philadelphia, Doylestown, and Bucks County, PA, patients, but individuals should also recognize oral cancer symptoms, so that they can get in touch if they notice anything unusual between routine exams.
Mouth sores, like canker sores, are one of the most common symptoms of oral cancer. It is quite common for a mouth sore to develop, so there is no need to panic at the first sign of a lesion or abrasion. However, if the sore isn’t healing properly, or if multiple sores develop, it could be a sign of oral cancer.
White patches are another potential symptom of oral cancer. White patches can develop on the lining of the mouth (around the inner cheeks or lips), or on the tongue, gums, or tonsils. The tissues around white patches often feel thicker than normal oral tissues.
Pain in or around the Mouth
It is not uncommon for individuals with oral cancer to experience mild to moderate pain in or around the mouth, including the teeth. Pain can extend to the face and jawbone, and may even cause irritation or ringing in the ears. Pain is likely to be more pronounced when a person is eating or speaking.
Oral cancer often causes swelling in the lymph nodes along the neck. Inflammation can make the throat feel closed up, which may make it more difficult to swallow. Patients sometimes describe the sensation as feeling like there is something caught in their throat.
As with mouth sores, most people get an occasional sore throat, and it usually has nothing to do with oral cancer. However, if a sore throat lingers for more than a week, or if a sore throat regularly comes and goes, it should be reported to Dr. Wilderman.
The teeth rely on the gums and jawbone to provide a sturdy foundation. If the health of the jaw or gum tissues is compromised, the teeth can become loose. Loose teeth are often a sign of oral health complications like infection or gum disease, but they can also be a symptom of oral cancer.
The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
As with many other types of cancer, the symptoms of oral cancer are often undetectable in their earliest stages, at least to the untrained eye. By the time someone notices a mouth sore or abnormal tissues, oral cancer could be in its more advanced stages. Using advanced technology, Dr. Wilderman can detect abnormal tissues during an oral cancer screening, and diagnose the disease in its earliest stages, when the likelihood of a successful treatment is still high.
Contact Our Practice
Oral cancer screenings are quick, non-invasive procedures that can be performed alongside your routine dental exam and cleaning. To learn more about what happens during an oral cancer screening, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bruce Wilderman, contact our practice online, or call Artistic Expressions Dentistry at (215) 340-1199.