Oral cancer signs and prevention

Every year, about 54,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in the United States. Of these cases, the survival rate from diagnosis is about 5 years for 57% of individuals. This is why education is so important when it comes to catching oral cancer early. April is Oral Cancer Awareness month, so here are signs, risk factors and preventative methods of oral cancer.  

Signs and symptoms 

There are many symptoms associated with oral cancer. One of the most common symptoms is a sore throat or irritation that doesn’t go away. If your throat has been sore for longer than three weeks, it might be time to visit your dentist or doctor. Sore throats are associated with many common illnesses, so it’s important to get checked if you suspect something else. Lumps in the throat, stubborn mouth sores and irritation are also common signs of oral cancer.  Red or white patches in the mouth, numbness, and difficulty chewing or swallowing are other symptoms to watch for. 

Risk factors 

Anyone can develop oral cancer, but there are a few factors that can increase an individual’s risk. Chewing, smoking or using tobacco products in any way can significantly increase the risk of developing oral cancer. However, if an individual quits using tobacco products, his or her risk of developing oral cancer will continually decrease as time passes. HPV infections can be another contributing factor to overall oral cancer risk. Age, spending too much time in the sun or eating too few fruits and vegetables are other risks.   


One of the best ways to prevent oral cancer is to check for early signs. During your daily oral hygiene routine, check the soft tissues of your mouth for the common signs and symptoms of oral cancer. Keeping up hygiene practices, having good nutrition, and avoiding tobacco products or alcohol are also great preventative measures. Go to the dentist at least twice a year to get a regular cleaning and screen for cancer if needed.  

Book an appointment with Jackson Dental if you’re worried about oral cancer or need to schedule your regular cleaning. Call us at (573) 243-5200 or stop by our office at 3100 E Jackson Blvd., Jackson, Mo. to get an appointment scheduled.