Are you one of the 42,000 Americans who will be diagnosed with oral or throat cancer this year? That’s about 100 new individuals a day in the U.S. alone, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. But when cancer is detected early, the survival rate can be as high as 80-90%.
Oral cancer is the largest group of cancers that falls into the head and neck category. The oral cavity includes your lips, cheek lining, gums, the front part of your tongue, the floor of your mouth beneath the tongue and the hard palate that makes up the roof of your mouth. Oral cancer can also affect the throat, starting at the soft part of the roof of your mouth, continuing back into the throat. It also can be in the back section of your tongue as well as the base where the tongue attaches to the roof of your mouth.
Your dentist will screen for oral health cancer and regular appointments will improve the chances any problems will be caught early. Symptoms of mouth or throat cancer can include:
- Sores that bleed easily or do not heal.
- A thick or hard spot or lump.
- A roughened or crusted area.
- Numbness, pain or tenderness.
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down.
Make sure to tell your dentist about any problems you have when chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw. If you are diagnosed with oral cancer, see your dentist before treatment, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). Take time to check your mouth for sores or other changes during treatment.
You may experience dry mouth during treatment. Here are some suggestions to keep your mouth moist.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Suck ice chips.
- Use sugarless gum or sugar-free hard candy.
- Use a saliva substitute to help moisten your mouth.
Go here for more information on oral cancer treatment options.