Catch Oral Cancer Early

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Jan 19, 2013

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Catch Oral Cancer Early

Oral cancer can affect the mouth and the back of the throat. Chances of survival drop once the cancer spreads to other parts of the body. That’s why it’s so important to find oral cancer early, when it can be treated more successfully.

Most cases of oral cancer are linked to cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol use or both. The disease usually occurs after age 40. African-American men are at especially high risk.

On average, about 60% of people with oral cancer survive more than 5 years. But only about 36% of African-American men with the disease survive that long.

An oral cancer exam is painless and takes only a few minutes. Your doctor or dentist will check your face, neck, lips, entire mouth and the back of your throat for signs of cancer.

Ask your doctor about getting an oral cancer exam. It’s quick, it’s painless, and it could save your life.

Signs of Oral Cancer

See your doctor or dentist if these changes to your mouth last for more than 2 weeks:

  • A thick patch or sore in your mouth, lip or throat
  • A white or red patch in your mouth
  • Trouble chewing or swallowing
  • A feeling that something is caught in your throat
  • Difficulty moving your jaw or tongue
  • Numbness in your mouth or tongue
  • Swelling of the jaw that makes your dentures uncomfortable
  • Pain in one ear without hearing loss
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