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Oral and tongue cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer. Unfortunately, most patients discover their diagnosis well after cancer has taken place in the mouth. For this reason, it’s crucial to abide by a comprehensive oral care routine and visit the dentist twice each year.

While cancer may pick its victims at random, taking the proper preventative care steps like flossing, brushing and rinsing with mouthwash will also help to fight cancer-causing oral diseases like periodontal disease. 

Types of Oral Cancer

There are four types of oral cancer that may appear on the lips, tongue, cheeks, the floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat. 

  1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma
    Typically, squamous cells lining the throat and mouth are flat. However, squamous cell carcinoma occurs when these cells begin to mutate. Over 90% of oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
  1. Minor Salivary Gland Carcinomas
    Oral cancer develops in the salivary glands which are located on the lining of the mouth and throat. 
  1. Lymphoma
    Lymphoma affects the immune system and is a cancer that attacks the areas of the body containing lymphoid tissue, which is usually the tonsils and base of the tongue. 
  1. Benign Oral Tumors
    Though benign, it’s still possible for non-cancerous tumors to develop into cancerous threats in the mouth and throat.

Warning Signs of Tongue Cancer

It can be hard to self-detect issues such as oral cancer since a person can only view so much of their own mouth. Additionally, many symptoms of oral and tongue cancer may also be associated with other medical conditions. For example, someone with oral cancer may experience severe earaches and not realize this is a symptom of their cancerous disease.

If you experience these symptoms for longer than 2-3 weeks, please contact your dentist or a medical health professional immediately.

Warning signs and symptoms:

  • Mouth and lip sores
  • Lumpy or thickened oral tissue
  • Earache and swelling
  • Jaw swelling
  • Throat pain and/or the constant feeling of something trapped in the throat
  • Red, black and/or white patches inside the mouth or on the lip 
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • Oral bleeding, pain or numbness
  • Vocal change

What to Tell Your Dentist

Even though you may trust your dentists and doctors to pinpoint the exact problem and solution, it’s imperative that you keep your medical providers up-to-date with your symptoms. If you feel that something is wrong or bothersome, please make it clear with your dentist or medical provider that you would appreciate additional screening. 

Too often oral and tongue cancer is detected in its later stages. A trusting patient-doctor relationship may help you catch the cancer early on and mitigate any serious health risks. 

Oral and Tongue Cancer Removal and Treatment

At least every hour of the day, 1 person dies of oral cancer. Comprehensive oral cancer screenings, regular visits to the dentist, and other preventative care steps like brushing, rinsing and flossing can help decrease the risk of a late-stage diagnosis.

If you or a loved one needs an oral cancer screening, contact our Chicago dental office today: (312) 435-0411.