Learning Center

Oral Cancer Prevention

The Importance of Early Detection

Your dentist has recent good news about progress against cancer. It is now easier than ever to detect oral cancer early, when the opportunity for a cure is great. Only half of all patients diagnosed with oral cancer survive more than five years.

Your dentist has the skills and tools to ensure that early signs of cancer and pre-cancerous conditions are identified. You and your dentist can fight and win the battle against oral cancer. Know the early signs and see your dentist regularly.

You Should Know

  • Oral Cancer often starts as a tiny, unnoticed white or red spot or sore anywhere in the mouth.
  •  It can affect any area of the oral cavity including the lips, gum tissue, check lining, tongue and the hard or soft palate.
  • A change in the way the teeth fit together.
  • Oral Cancer most often occurs in those who use tobacco in any form.
  • Other signs include:
    • A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal
    • A color change of the oral tissues
    • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
    • Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
    • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue
  • Alcohol use combined with smoking greatly increases risk.
  • Prolonged exposure to the sun increases the risk of lip cancer.
    Oral cancers can occur in people who do not smoke and have no other known risk factors.
    Oral Cancer is more likely to strike after age 40.
    Studies suggest that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may prevent the development of potentially cancerous lesions.

Source: American Dental Association