Oral Cancer 101

Don’t wait for pain or sores to get worse before visiting your dentist in Bloomingdale. Receiving regular dental checkups from your dentist and hygienist is the first step toward catching a potential cancer diagnosis early on. Here is a brief rundown on cancer of the mouth and throat. oral-cancer


Oral cancer can occur anywhere in or around the mouth—lips, throats, tongue, and gum tissue, to name just a few areas. If you have oral cancer, you might hear one of two different terms: oral cavity cancer and oropharyngeal cancer. These two terms refer to the location the cancer originated from; oral cavity cancer came from the mouth, and oropharyngeal cancer originated from the throat.


The most common symptom of oral cancer is a bleeding sore that does not heal. You may experience constant pain in or around your mouth, as well as one or multiple bleeding sores. Additional symptoms include: red or white patches anywhere in the mouth; an encrusted area in the mouth; difficulties with tongue movement, chewing, or swallowing; or finding a lump in your cheek.


If you feel you have any of the above symptoms, visit your dentist right away. After a dental checkup, if your dentist feels he cannot diagnose you, he might send you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist or order a biopsy. If cancer cells are present, there are four different stages of oral cancer. Stages I and II are considered early because the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes yet, and the tumor should be small. Stages III and IV are advanced because the cancer has spread further into the tissues, lymph nodes, or other areas of the body. The tumor will be much larger, about the size of a lime.


There are four treatments available, depending on the stage of oral cancer. A doctor might recommend one or a combination of the following treatments: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy, which usually uses a type of drug to stunt the growth of cancer cells.

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