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Oral Cancer Awareness: Understanding Risk Factors and Early Detection

Home » Blog » Oral Cancer Awareness: Understanding Risk Factors and Early Detection

The American Cancer Society estimates approximately 58,450 new cases of oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer in the United States for 2024. Despite its prevalence, oral cancer doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves. By shedding light on the risk factors and the importance of early detection, we can take proactive steps toward prevention and treatment.

At Parsons Smile Center, we prioritize not only your dental health but also your overall well-being, including proactive measures against oral cancer. Our team, led by Dr. Fady Salha, provides comprehensive care tailored to your individual needs. Whether you are due for a routine check-up, interested in preventive screenings for oral cancer, or seeking advanced treatments for any dental concerns, we’re here to guide you every step of the way.

Are You at a High Risk of Developing Oral Cancer?

Like other forms of cancer, oral cancer occurs when cells in the mouth or throat undergo abnormal growth and multiplication. Oral cancer can affect the lips, gums, tongue, cheeks, roof and floor of the mouth, along with the throat.

While anyone can develop oral cancer, there are certain factors that increase your risk. They include:

Tobacco Use

Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, as well as using chewing tobacco and other smokeless tobacco products, significantly increases the risk of oral cancer. Hazardous chemicals in tobacco products damage cells in the mouth and throat, paving the way for cancerous growths.

Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Substantial alcohol consumption, particularly when combined with tobacco use, poses a heightened risk for oral cancer. Alcohol can irritate the lining of the mouth and throat, making you more susceptible to the effects of carcinogens.

HPV Infection

Certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), notably HPV-16, are linked to an increased risk of oral cancer. HPV is a common sexually transmitted illness, and infection with high-risk strains can lead to the development of oral and throat cancers.

Sun Exposure

Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun increases the risk of lip cancer. Outdoor workers, recreational sunbathers, and individuals with fair skin are particularly vulnerable to this risk factor.

Early Signs of Oral Cancer You Should Look Out For

One of the most critical aspects of oral cancer awareness is understanding the importance of early detection. Oral cancer often presents few noticeable symptoms in its early stages, making it easy to overlook or mistake for benign conditions. However, being vigilant for potential warning signs can lead to earlier discovery of issues and more successful treatment outcomes.

Early signs you may have oral cancer include the following:

  • Mouth sores or ulcers that don’t heal within two weeks
  • Red or white patches on the tongue, gums, or lining of the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding or numbness in the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking
  • A persistent sore throat or hoarseness
  • Lumps or thickening of the mouth tissues

Quitting the use of tobacco products is the single most effective way to reduce your risk of oral cancer. However, good oral hygiene habits, including brushing and flossing regularly and attending routine dental check-ups, are also essential for oral health and early detection of potential issues.

Take Charge of Your Oral Health with a Skilled New York City Dentist Today

Early detection of oral cancer saves lives, so don’t hesitate to seek a professional evaluation if you notice any concerning symptoms or changes in your oral health. At Parsons Smile Center, we prioritize your oral health and offer comprehensive screenings for oral cancer.

Take the first step towards proactive oral care by scheduling an appointment with us today. Contact Parsons Smile Center at (212) 223-5100 or fill out our contact form to learn more about our services and how we can help. Also, if you’re not sure if we take your insurance, please reach out to us.


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