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It’s early to start thinking about Halloween (Even though the new trailer for Stephen King’s IT gave me a jumpstart – yikes!) However, oral cancer is something that is scary at any time of the year. April is oral cancer awareness month and your chances of beating it depend on how soon you find it.
In 2017 about 49,670 people will get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer. An estimated 9700 will die of these cancers. Oral cancer can strike in the mouth and throat with most of these cancers beginning in the flat cells – squamous cells – that cover the surfaces of the mouth, tongue, and lips. Some of the risk factors include tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), sun exposure, diet, betel nut use, and personal history of oral cancer.
Symptoms to watch for include patches inside the mouth or on the lips, a sore on the mouth or lips that doesn’t heal, bleeding in the mouth, loose teeth, pain or difficulty swallowing, lump in the neck, numbness of lower lip and chin, difficulty wearing dentures, and a persistent earache.
You need to get to your dentist or physician ASAP if you have any of these symptoms.
So are you scared? Be scared. Embrace it. Get that screening!
(You’ve been warned about the movie…if you still want to watch the trailer click here.