Spots In Mouth Can Indicate Oral Cancer

Posted on Dec 29, 2014 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you don’t see your dentist for twice-a-year dental cleanings and exams, you’re missing out on a very important part of the exam. At least annually, your dentist performs an oral cancer screening to check for warning signs. A white or red spot on the tongue, lips or inside the cheeks are possible signs of oral cancer. More than 90% of oral cancers start on the tongue, floor of the mouth or gums.

Every year, over 30,000 people in the U. S. are diagnosed with oral cancer. On average, one person dies of oral cancer every hour. However, if detected early, oral cancer is 90% survivable.

It is especially frightening that there has been a rapid increase in oral cancers in comparison to other cancers. For instance, in the past 5 years, oral cancer has increased 21% while new cancers of all types have risen only 8%. Alarmingly, cancer of the tongue rose more than 37% during this period.

The most common symptoms are a mouth sore that does not heal; white or red patch of tissue; difficulty swallowing; a lump or mass in the mouth or neck; a long period of hoarseness; pain or numbness in the oral region; change in the voice; or, a long period of ear pain. Some things as simple as a bite on the inside of your cheek may mimic the look of a dangerous tissue change. It is important to have any sore or discolored area of your mouth that does not heal within a week checked by a Periodontal Specialist.

Oral cancer is deadly and nothing to just “wait and see” if the spot goes away. Early treatment can mean the difference between life and death. I cannot stress enough the need to react promptly to these oral symptoms.

If you (or someone you know) experience any of the symptoms mentioned, call us immediately at (828) 274-9440. You may also want to visit the web site of the American Academy of Periodontology:

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