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Oral Cancer Awareness: What You Need to Know

April 24, 2024

oral cancer tongueOral cancer is a serious health condition that affects thousands of people each year. While it may not be as widely discussed as some other forms of cancer, it’s important to raise awareness about this disease and the steps individuals can take to detect it early and protect their oral health. Susan Ellison Dentistry & Cosmetics is committed to giving patients a better understanding of this condition and teaching them to take proactive measures to safeguard their overall well-being.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer refers to cancerous growths that develop in the mouth, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, floor of the mouth, and the hard and soft palate. These cancers can also spread to the throat, tonsils, and salivary glands. Oral cancer is a type of head and neck cancer, and it’s considered a serious and potentially life-threatening disease.

Oral cancers typically begin as precancerous changes in the cells lining the mouth and throat. Over time, these abnormal cells can progress into malignant tumors. If left untreated, oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body, making it much more difficult to treat successfully.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact causes of oral cancer are not fully understood, but research has identified several key risk factors that can increase an individual’s likelihood of developing this disease. Some of the most common causes and risk factors for oral cancer include:

  • Tobacco Use
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption
  • Sun Exposure
  • Poor Dental Hygiene
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Genetics and Family History


Oral cancer can present a variety of symptoms, and it’s important to be aware of these signs so that you can seek medical attention promptly. Some of the most common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Persistent sores or lesions in the mouth that don’t heal within two weeks
  • Red or white patches or spots in the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding or numbness in the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • Persistent hoarseness or sore throat
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lumps or thickening in the cheek
  • Pain or discomfort in the mouth or throat

It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be associated with other, less serious conditions, so it’s essential to have any persistent or unusual changes in the mouth or throat evaluated. Dr. Ellison provides thorough exams during each check-up appointment and can identify issues that may signal a problem.

Preventing Oral Cancer

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent oral cancer, our team recommends several things to help keep your teeth, gums, and mouth in the healthiest condition. These include:

  • Quit Tobacco and Limit Alcohol
  • See Dr. Ellison & her team regularly for cleanings and exams
  • Have good dental hygiene (brush and floss daily)
  • Protect Your Lips from Sun Exposure
  • Eat a healthy diet

Schedule Your Dental Check-Up & Get Screened for Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a serious condition that affects thousands of people each year, but it is preventable and treatable if diagnosed early! By taking the steps listed above, you can empower yourself to be an active participant in your own health and well-being. If you have any concerns about your oral health or suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of oral cancer, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. Together, we can work towards a future where oral cancer is detected and treated early, allowing more individuals to live healthy, cancer-free lives.

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