Oral cancer is a group of cancers including mouth cancer, tongue cancer, tonsil cancer and throat cancer. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 43,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year alone. Unfortunately, oral cancer has a high death rate because the cancer is typically discovered late in its development.
Do you know the symptoms?
The most common symptoms are lesions on your tongue or on your cheek. These can feel dense and look discolored.
You might also notice sores within your mouth. It's important to note that canker sores usually only last a couple of days, so if the sore is persistent for more than a week, you should consult your physician.
Risk factors for oral cancer are tobacco and alcohol use, sun exposure, the human papilloma virus (HPV) and if you have already had some other form of head or neck cancer.
There are ways for you to do self-exams, the easiest being when you are brushing your teeth. Look around your mouth to make sure you don't notice any difference in coloration, sores and bumps. You should also feel under your chin, neck and back part of your jaw for swollen lymph nodes.
What are the treatment options?
The best treatment is prevention; reducing your risk factors will benefit your oral health. Don't hesitate to go to your physician when you notice differences within your mouth.
Board certified medical oncologist and hematologist on staff at Swedish Covenant Hospital, Jeffrey Cilley, MD, discusses signs and symptoms of oral cancer, as well as treatment options available if you or your loved one has been diagnosed.