Almost 50,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. The fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients is surprising – non-smokers who are young and otherwise healthy. This is due to the HPV virus, which nearly all sexually active men and women get at some point in their lives.
The good news is that early detection can make a difference, and oral cancer screening is easy, painless and fast. Your dentist or oral surgeon closely examines the roof and floor of the mouth, back of the throat, tongue, cheeks, and lymph nodes in the neck. If tumors are found, a brush biopsy is a painless test that collects cells by brushing them onto a slide. A tissue biopsy removes a small piece of tissue so that it can be checked for cancerous cells.
Do you have symptoms of oral cancer? They can include:
- A sore on lip or mouth that won’t heal
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Painful or difficulty swallowing
- Lump in neck
- White or red patches in mouth and lips
- Earache that won’t go away
Spread the word, awareness can save a life, and all you have to do is say aaah!