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Oral Cancer

There are 40,000 new cases of oral cancer reported each year in the United States. The vast majority occur in people older than 45 years, with men being twice as likely as women to develop the disease. Dr. Geare can perform a thorough screening for oral cancer.

Risk Factors

  • Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoking-Smokers are six times more likely than non-smokers to develop oral cancers.
  • Use of smokeless tobacco products-Use of these products increases the risk of cancers of the cheek, gums, and lining of the lips 50 times.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol-Oral cancers are about six times more common in drinkers.
  • Family history of cancer
  • Excessive exposure to the sun, especially at a young age

Warning Signs

  • Swellings/thickenings, lumps or bumps, rough spots/crusts/or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth
  • Velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
  • Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within two weeks
  • A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
  • Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or changes in the voice
  • Ear pain
  • A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
  • Dramatic weight loss

Treatment
Oral cancer is treated the same way many other cancers are treated; that is with surgery to remove the cancerous growth followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy (drug treatments) to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

Prevention
You can take an active role in preventing oral cancer:

  • Conduct a self exam at least once a month. Using a bright light and a mirror, look and feel your lips, gums, the roof of your mouth, the lining of your cheeks, and your tongue. Feel for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes in both sides of your neck and under your lower jaw. Call Dr. Geare’s office immediately if you notice any changes.
  • Visit Dr. Geare at least twice yearly for check-ups and cleaning
  • Don’t smoke or use any tobacco products and drink alcohol in moderation
  • Eat a well balanced diet
  • Limit your exposure to the sun