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April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month

As National Oral Cancer Awareness month, April is a good time to take a look at this disease and its most common symptoms. Oral cancer affects about eleven percent of the population, with those over the age of forty experiencing much higher rates than other age groups. There are some steps that you can take to identify precancerous cells in the mouth, as well as diagnostic tools that are used to identify cancer early. A prompt diagnosis is ideal for successful treatment of cancer, making regular checkups your best defense against the disease.

Common Symptoms and Diagnosis

Oral cancer is typically diagnosed in the dentist’s office. The signs of squamous cell cancer, which is the most common type of mouth, neck, and head cancer, include a sore or ulcer that won’t heal or that bleeds excessively. The area can be either pale or dark in color, and may not have a sore present. Some patients with the condition have a crack in the mouth or on the tongue that doesn’t heal. Any irregularities of the mouth should be checked by a medical professional as soon as possible to rule out cancer.

While cancer of the mouth is the most common disease associated with oral cancer, the disease can also be present in the throat. Sore lymph glands in the throat or other persistent discomfort can be associated with the condition. Since symptoms can vary depending on the precise location of the cancer and your personal habits, it is important to notice any changes in the mouth and throat that seem to linger over the course of several weeks. Something as simple as a sore throat can be one of the first signs of oral cancer. Regular dental checkups can be the first step in early diagnosis and prompt treatment of cancer in the throat and mouth.