What is Oral Cancer?

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Also known as mouth cancer, oral cancer is a type of cancer that forms within the soft tissues of the mouth, gums, lips, and jaw. This type of cancer can be difficult to detect on your own. It also spreads rapidly to other areas of the body when it is left untreated. While oral cancer is a serious diagnosis, catching it early on allows you to have the best chance of having it treated successfully. Your specialists in Alexandria and Vienna, VA are ready to assist you in screening for abnormalities that point towards oral cancer, as well as to assist in treating oral cancer or any type of cysts, tumors, or other pathological processes. We are here to teach you about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available to you.

A specialist is here to treat you! Don’t delay when it comes to keeping on top of your oral health, book an appointment, or request a referral to a specialist at Drs. Delgado & Kuzmik, PC in Alexandria and Vienna as soon as possible.

What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

Knowing the symptoms of oral cancer allows you to notice abnormalities in the mouth that could indicate that you have the disease. It’s important that you watch out for symptoms such as:

  1. Ulcers or sores that do not heal within three weeks
  2. An irritation or thick patch in your mouth, lip, or throat
  3. White or red patches in your mouth
  4. Numbness in your tongue or other areas of your mouth

What Causes Oral Cancer?

Whatever increases your chances of getting oral cancer is known as a risk factor. While many cases of oral cancer can be linked to known risk factors, there are some patients who develop the disease while not having known risk factors.

Tobacco Use

Using tobacco of any sort is one of the common risk factors for the development of oral cancer. The longer a person uses tobacco, the higher the risk is. The type of tobacco utilized can also influence where oral cancer develops. Patients who utilize chewing tobacco are at a higher risk of developing cancer in the gums, cheeks, and lips. Those who smoke tobacco are at an increased risk of cancer developing in the soft palate and lips. Remember, two out of three oral cancer diagnoses can be directly linked to the use of tobacco.

Alcohol Use

People who consume more than 21 alcoholic drinks each week are also more likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer. In addition to this, those who use both tobacco and alcohol are six times more likely to develop oral cancer than people who don’t.

Other Risk Factors

The other risk factors for oral cancer are:

  1. Gender: Two-thirds of the people diagnosed with oral cancer are male.
  2. Age: Oral cancer is most often found in people over the age of 45.
  3. Prolonged sun exposure.
  4. Ill-fitting dentures that cause irritation.
  5. Poor diet, especially one that lacks fruits and vegetables.
  6. Radiation exposure.
  7. Previous head and neck cancer diagnosis.

What Happens During Oral Cancer Treatment?

Patients who are diagnosed with oral cancer frequently have a team of specialists to assist in their treatment. This team typically consists of a general dentist, as well as specialists such as oral and maxillofacial surgeons. Oncologists (doctors who specialize in the treatment of cancer) are usually a part of this team too.

When you go to an oral or maxillofacial surgeon for treatment, he or she will schedule a consultation with you. This consultation will consist of an exam, as well as x-rays if they are necessary. Many surgeries can be performed within a

specialist's office, but there are some that may need to be conducted at your local hospital. During your surgery, your oral or maxillofacial surgeon will perform a biopsy that removes all or part of the abnormal tissues within the mouth. The removed tissues will then be sent off to a laboratory so that an accurate diagnosis can be made.

Common treatments for oral cancer range from simple procedures such as taking out the area affected by cancer, to complicated procedures that include multiple steps that involve chemotherapy and radiation. Treatment for oral cancer doesn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach.

A specialist is here to treat you! Don’t delay when it comes to keeping on top of your oral health, book an appointment, or request a referral to a specialist in Alexandria or Vienna, VA as soon as possible.

How to Prevent Oral Cancer

Did you know that oral cancers are considered to be one of the most preventable types of cancers? The majority of cases that are diagnosed are caused by lifestyle factors that are completely within your control. To reduce your risk of developing oral cancer, you should avoid any type of tobacco product. You should also visit your dentist a minimum of twice a year for professional cleanings and thorough dental examinations. If you drink alcohol, be sure to drink it in moderation. Patients who wear dentures should remove them every night and thoroughly clean them every day. Limiting the amount of time you are exposed to the sun, wearing lip balm that contains sunscreen, and wearing a hat whenever you have to be in the sun for long lengths of time can also help to reduce your risk of developing mouth cancer. You should also consume a well-rounded diet consisting of fruits and vegetables. Any foods that contain omega-3s are good for helping to prevent oral cancer.

The Oral Cancer Foundation states that over 48,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with oral cancer every year. This type of cancer can happen to anybody, so it’s imperative that you know what you can do to reduce your risk. In addition to this, early detection of oral cancer is the key to saving lives!

A specialist is here to treat you! Don’t delay when it comes to keeping on top of your oral health, book an appointment, or request a referral to the specialists at Drs. Delgado & Kuzmik, PC today.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.