In our continuing efforts to provide the highest quality of dental health care available to our patients, we regularly screen our patients for oral cancer. The fact is, every hour of every day in North America, someone dies of oral cancer, which is the sixth most commonly diagnosed form of the disease. Although the five-year survival rate is only 50 percent, and oral cancer is one of the few cancers whose survival rate has not improved, early detection is the key!
Oral cancer can occur on the lips, gums, tongue, inside lining of the cheeks, roof of the mouth, and the floor of the mouth. Symptoms of oral cancer may include a sore in the throat or mouth that bleeds easily and does not heal, a red or white patch that persists, a lump or thickening, ear pain, a neck mass, or coughing up blood. Difficulties in swallowing, chewing, or moving the tongue or jaws are often late symptoms.
While there is no way to predict exactly which individuals will get oral cancer, there are potential causes like age, tobacco uses, excessive alcohol, persistent viral infections like HPV16 and a diet that is lacking or low in fruits and vegetables.