Almost 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or throat cancer this year. The 5-year survival rate of those diagnosed is only slightly more than 64%. When cancer is detected and treated early, treatment-related health problems are reduced. Regular dental visits can improve the chances that any suspicious changes in your oral health will be caught early, at a time when cancer can be treated more easily.
In between dental visits, it is important for patients to be aware of the following signs and symptoms, and to see their dentist if they do not disappear after two weeks.
- a sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
- red or white patches
- pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
- a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
- difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
- a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth