What Is Oral cancer?

 

Oral cancer is a disease that can affect a number of individuals; any age, race or gender. The cells within the oral cavity mutate causing malfunction; this can lead to tissue failure, organ failure or even death.  In some cases, cancerous cells that start in one region of the body can lead to cancerous lesions in the mouth as well.

 

How will I know if I have oral cancer?

Symptoms for oral cancer can vary as there are many types of oral cancer present. Below is a list of common things look for: 

-Lumps or bumps: seen on the tongue, the gum tissue or even the roof of your mouth. 

-Colored spots: these can appear as white, red, or yellow within your oral cavity. In some cases, blue spots can appear as well.

-Ulcers: Ulcers are areas where the gum tissue is no longer present and a glassy white/yellow spot is in the place of the gum tissue.

-Changes in the appearance of your gums or tissue that lasts for longer than 2 weeks.

 

I have a spot on my tongue. Does this mean I have cancer?

Not necessarily. It is common to have consistent changes within the oral cavity. It is important to have a trained Dental Hygienist or Dentist look at your mouth and assess the tissues. They are educated to look for normal changes compared to abnormal changes. Your Dentist or Hygienist will be able to assess whether a biopsy is necessary. At Distinctive Dentistry in Tacoma, patients also have the additional benefit of the Velscope; a specialized sensor that can help to assess abnormal changes within oral tissues.

 

How can I lower my risk for oral cancer?

One of the most important things patients can do to lower their risk for cancer is to remove all tobacco product from their lifestyle. Tobacco products have vast amounts of chemicals that contribute to cell mutations (the cause of oral cancer).  Some studies have shown that by using tobacco products in association with alcohol use can greatly increase a patient’s risk for getting oral cancer. Additionally, regular checkups with your Hygienist and Dentist are important; oral cancer, if detected early, can have a number of options for treatment.