The best way to protect against cancer is to detect it early on and oral cancer is no exception to that. Diagnosing oral cancer with regular screenings is essential to prevention and treatment. When a patient comes in with symptoms of bleeding, pain, dysphagia or otalgia, we promptly assess the mouth, neck, and head for cancer. Dr. Salm thoroughly examines the mouth and neck for such cancers, which only takes a few minutes. This fast and simple exam is crucial to preventing cancer, treating, and curing early stage oral cancer.
Every year roughly 37,000 American are diagnosed with oral cancer. Sadly, only 57% of them will be alive in 5 years. This is not because it is hard to detect, but people just aren’t examined for it. Oral cancer has a low survival rate because it is usually diagnosed in the later stages and is found after it has been metastasized. We screen for cancer each time you come in to get your teeth cleaned or when there is a full exam done, however if you notice any symptoms in between visits, they should not be ignored. You play the most essential role in detecting oral cancer early.
Signs and Symptoms
What to look for at home:
A sore(s) that takes longer than 2-3 weeks to heal
Red, white or blue patches
Lumps or thickening in cheek
Newly occurring numbness in the mouth
Swelling that affects the fit of your dentures (not to be confused with a denture sore)
While these symptoms may be due to other less severe issues, it is important to be mindful of them and get checked regularly.
Alcohol and tobacco use
Human Papilloma Virus
Unknown (5%) -- Genetics suspected
Until recently, close to 75% of oral cancer has been associated with alcohol and tobacco use and in those 50 plus years old. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is creating a larger threat for younger non-smoking individuals, being the fastest growing group to contract oral cancer. Meaning, ages 20 and over are at risk regardless if they smoke or not.
Oral Cancer Screening
Check face for asymmetry, swelling, discoloration, ulceration
Palpate lymphatic chains
Examine lips (inside and out)
Examine cheeks (inside and out)
Examine tongue (underneath and on both sides)
Examine bottom of mouth
Examine soft palate
In need of immediate care?
We offer emergency phone consultations to our existing patients. Call us anytime at (262) 548-3555.