April is Oral, Head, Neck Cancer (OHNC) Awareness month. Did you know that OHNC is the 6th most prominent cancer in the United States today? The statistics tell us that one person dies every hour of every day of OHNC.
The common signs and symptoms of oral, head, neck cancer include the following:
- An ulcer or mouth sore that does not heal within 2 weeks
- Difficulty or pain in swallowing
- Feeling of something caught in the throat.
- Persistent sore throat or hoarse voice
- Swelling or lump in the mouth
- A painless lump on the outside of the neck or in the cheek
- An earache on one side that persists for more than a few days
- Pain with chewing
- Numbness in the mouth or lips
Certain lifestyle choices such as smoking, using smokeless tobacco, and heavy consumption of alcohol are the risk factors that may increase the likelihood for developing OHNC. A lot of the cancers found in the tonsil and throat region may be attributed to cell changes brought about by an infection from human papillomavirus (HPV).
There are still approximately 7% of the diagnosed OHNC cases not associated with any of these risk factors so it is important to have a thorough head and neck examination as part of a wellness plan. Our office provides complimentary OHNC exams to all patients 16 years and older during the regular check-up visit.
Information taken from an article in RDH March 2015 magazine – “Oral cancer v.2.015” by Dennis Abbott.