Oral cancer is diagnosed in about 29,000 Americans each year, and claims almost 7000 deaths. It is the sixth most common cancer and usually affects people over the age of 40. The occurrence of oral cancer is twice as likely to occur in men then women. Smoking in conjunction with alcohol use is the primary cause of this cancer; furthermore tobacco use accounts for up to about 90% of all oral cancer cases. Smoking cigarettes, pipes, cigars or chewing tobacco greatly increases the likely hood of getting not just oral cancer, but also cancer of the throat, esophagus and lungs. The most common site for this cancer is the lateral border of the tongue. Other areas that are commonly affected are the floor of the mouth, soft palate, lips, and the gums.

The overall five-year survival rate for oral cancer is approximately 50%. If diagnosed and treated in its early stages through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, oral cancer is curable. Unfortunately most oral cancers are usually not easily detected in its early stages when it can be simply cured. Symptoms of oral cancer include white or red patches on the tongue, gums, or cheek. Other symptoms include loss of feeling or numbness in your tongue and lumps in your cheek. If you notice any of these symptoms or persistent pain in your mouth for greater than 2-3 weeks, please schedule an appointment with your friendly neighborhood dentist. He or she will be more than happy to evaluate the lesion, or any prolonged persistent pain that you may have. If your dentist suspects oral cancer, the dentist usually performs a small biopsy or he or she will refer you to an oral surgeon, who will biopsy the lesion.

Dr D.G. Patel Whiting, (732) 350-9494

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