April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month this month Dr. Sedaros and all of us here at Sedaros Oral Surgery hope to raise awareness among our patients and everyone in Melbourne, Florida about oral cancer. Raising awareness is one of the most important things we can do to help catch and treat oral cancer before it becomes fatal. 

Oral cancer includes cancer of the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and can be expanded to include the larynx. More than 48,000 Americans will be diagnosed this year and on average  more than 9,000 people will die from this tragic diagnosis.  Oral cancer is frequently attributed to smoking and alcohol usage as well as genetics, however recently oral surgeons have been seeing a resurgence in this type of cancer among young non-smokers due to a strain of Human Papillomavirus that is known to cause cancer. This new modality is concerning and makes awareness of this condition more important than ever.

During the month of April you will  notice free oral cancer screenings offered in dental offices in pharmacies in Melbourne and across the nation. It is important to screen for oral cancer every month especially if you smoke or have a family history of oral cancer. Cancer screenings are simple examinations where your dentist or oral surgeon will examine your mouth for irregularities and early signs or symptoms. Early treatment of this disease is imperative to reduce the mortality rate.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

While it is important to be screened by an oral surgeon, there are some symptoms that you may notice on your own. If you see or experience some or any of these symptoms call your oral surgeon immediately. 

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A lump in the neck
  • Irregular voice changes
  • Pain or loosening of the teeth or jaw
  • Swelling or numbness of the mouth, especially in the tongue
  • Difficulty swallowing, chewing, and moving of the mouth
  • A persistent sore that does not heal
  • Persistent pain in the mouth
  • White or red patch on the tongue, cheek, gums, or other mucosal lining of the mouth
  • Sore throat that won’t go away
  • A thickening or lump in the cheek

If you experience any of these symptoms it is important to go straight to your dentist or oral surgeon for a screening. Early treatment can save lives.

Causes of Oral Cancer 

Men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer over women. Scientist attribute this gender disparity as related to an increase in tobacco and alcohol usages among men, as the rate of cancer is equal among men and women who both smoke and drink. Tobacco and alcohol use are a major factor in diagnosing oral cancer. It is well known that both of these substances can  mutate genes and cause many serious issues. Ceasing the consumption of tobacco products and alcohol significantly reduces your chances of developing oral cancer and a myriad of other illnesses. There are many resources  and smoking cessation program for those in need in Brevard County.

There are two genetic disorders that predispose people to oral cancers they are: Fanconi anemia and Dyskeratosis congenita. However these conditions increase the risk of many other cancers as well, oral cancer is more prevalent among the population. 

A new and interesting condition that is having an effect on oral cancer rates is HPV infection. there are many strains of HPV and only a few have been shown to cause cancer. HPV 16 is most well known for causing cervical cancer, however it is now causing a spike an oropharyngeal cancers. According to The Oral Cancer Foundation about 25% of patients with oral cancer are linked to HPV.

There are many treatments for oral cancer.  Each depends on where the cancer is and what stage it is in.  If diagnosed early there is a very good prognosis and chance that cancer will be removed forever. However, It is common for patients to not know they have oral cancer until it has reached an advanced stage. This is why, if you have a high risk, it is so important to be screened for oral cancer every time you go to the dentist.

If you have questions  about oral cancer or worry that you may be experiencing symptoms, contact Sedaros Oral Surgery. We believe that information and awareness about this disease in our community can help treat and care for those who receive this tragic diagnosis.