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Learning About Oral Cancer - Facts and Information

Updated on January 15, 2012

Learning more about the Dangers of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is not something I often hear about. It isn't really a concern at all. Learning more about it can give reason to pause, and it is smart to educate ourselves on this far too common and sometimes fatal cancer.

I have to admit, that I was surprised to hear that poor dental hygiene can result in major problems which can lead to cancer and death. People do die from oral cancer. Did you know that this kind of cancer is experienced by over 35,000 people just in the US alone, every year? I was simply shocked. In fact, oral cancers are the sixth most common form of cancer, according to one study. It takes more lives than cervical cancer or skin cancers, according to another study. Again I was amazed, as we just don't hear it being talked about as much.

Oral cancer can occur in any part of a person's mouth or throat. Very often, it can first be seen on the tongue and lower parts of the mouth. It can be in one's cheeks, or palate (roof) of mouth area. It can happen to anyone, but statistics show it is more common in men over forty years old. If that man uses alcohol or tobacco it can increase the chances.

What they are seeing now, is that more and more oral cancers being detected in many under the age of 50, that are non smokers or drinkers. One reason this may be is because of certain viruses like HPV that many people have. It is usually thought of as harmless, but in this case it is not.

These oral cancers are seen more often in people that eat less fresh fruits and vegetables. The normal amounts of antioxidants found in such fruits and vegetables can go after the carcinogenic elements we have in our lives and therefore our bodies.

Some Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Loose teeth

Abnormal taste in one's mouth

Teeth shifting, not fitting together anymore

Changes in one's voice, or hoarseness

Mouth Sores that don't seem to ever really heal. See your dentist if one of these sores doesn't heal within two weeks. These can be white patches or red spots, or dark spots and need not be painful to be serious.

Bleeding in the mouth

Tingling and burning sensations that are unexplained.

New Lumps or Mass in Neck

Any difficulties in swallowing, moving jaw, or speaking

Ongoing, unexplained chronic pain in the mouth

If you are experiencing any of the above, please go and get it checked out. Many people that get oral cancer, actually succumb to it. This was just shocking to me. It is said that as many as twenty five percent end up dying from oral cancer.

Preventing Oral Cancers

The very best prevention is to take good care of your teeth ongoing. There is nothing to lose, and so much to gain from taking good care of your teeth or gums. If your teeth and gums are not in the best shape, you have a lot to benefit from starting to take better care now. Brush and floss, starting now and keep up with it. The more you make yourself do it regularly, the easier it gets.

Another thing you can do, is go to the dentist, and have him perform a simple exam. These exams are simple and quick, so there is nothing to dread in that regard. I think many people do dread going to the dentist because they don't want to hear bad news or experience any pain. The good news is, that dentists have come very far in making the experience better than ever for us. It makes sense that they would want to make your visit as quick and painless and comfortable as they can, so you are more likely to come back! If nothing else, you just need to know the truth however, whatever it is, about the state of health in your mouth.

Do regular checks on your mouth, lips, under and around tongue for signs like the ones described below.

If money and insurance is a problem, my recommendation is to keep calling around to different dentists until you find one that will work with you. Dentists want your business. They know times are hard for people, and would rather you call and ask questions that just not come at all. Call and find out if they will work with you on a cash basis. They may be able to give some kind of payment plan, and adjust fees to suit your needs better so its a win win situation for all involved.

What Usually Happens at an Oral Cancer Screening

The dentist or hygienist will look around your mouth for any unusual lumps or color that is out of the ordinary for the mouth. These could be white spots, red bumps or spots, or lesions.

They may gently massage or feel around on your jaw, neck. They are looking for swollen nymph nodes.

They will look at your tongue closely, and the areas around your tongue.

Oral cancers can be so easily prevented and often are easy to treat as well. There is no need to suffer from oral cancer, and there are different options on how to treat it. One option I would not encourage is to ignore. Having a simple test performed can save your life. I am sure a dentist would allow for people to come in just for this procedure. As with all cancers, the earlier you find out about it, the easier to deal with.


Have you or anyone you have known, ever had oral cancer?

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    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Lastheart, I can see why someone labeled this hub "scary," in many ways. People don't realize just how easy it is to get oral cancer, and how serious it can be. Thank you for your comment here, and I am so glad you found the hub informative. I hope people learn more about it than ever.

    • Lastheart profile image

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 5 years ago from Borik√©n the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      I just got this hub from a share in Stumble. I had wrote few days ago about oral cancer....the thing is that the person that shared this hub, messaged: "Scary". Yes it is scary but hub like this are great informative help. Proud for your hub. Keep the good work.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Gail, thank you very much for your comment. You give some great ideas for people that may not think they can go to a dentist to get their teeth checked out. This kind of knowledge could potentially save a life someday! Glad you stopped by, and thank you for the votes and visit. :)

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks for sharing this very important information and for encouraging people to have dental exams even if they don't have insurance. Many people are afraid to ask if a dentist will work with them on a payment schedule but individual dentists, particularly ones who are new and trying to build up a practice may do so. Also, some places have dental clinics where payment is on a sliding scale fee or dental schools may host oral exams given by student dentists under the supervision of their instructors.

      Voted this hub up and useful.