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patient learning oral cancer treatment options

Getting Oral Cancer Treatment in Northern Virginia

patient learning oral cancer treatment options

There are plenty of topics that people don’t like talking about, and oral cancer is one of them. However, the more that people talk about it, the more that they understand it. In this case, knowledge really is power, and it has the power to save lives by raising awareness.

This rise in awareness is already saving lives. According to the American Cancer Society, deaths from oral cancer have been on the decline the past 30 years. Experts attribute this a lot to people having better awareness of the disease and seeking help from an oral surgeon quicker.

That said, oral cancer is still a problem. In 2022 alone, around 54,000 new cases of oral cancer were reported in the United States. The most common areas of the mouth for people to get this kind of cancer are their tonsils, tongue, and gums.

Remember that if you have oral cancer, you have a better chance of beating it the quicker you seek treatment. If you think that you or a loved one has oral cancer, make an appointment with your Northern Virginia oral surgeon for a screening as soon as possible.

Understanding What Oral Cancer Is

To raise awareness about oral cancer, people have to understand what it is first. Oral cancer is a cancer of the mouth. In fact, it is often referred to as simply mouth cancer. It can be used to describe any kind of cancer of the mouth, including cancer that affects the gums, lips, or jaw.

One of the major problems with oral cancer is that it is hard to detect without professional help. Thankfully, your general dentist can do a screening of your mouth for oral cancer. If it turns out that you have oral cancer, your dentist will probably send you to an oral surgeon for diagnosis and treatment.

Keep in mind that not all abnormalities in the mouth are cancerous. Once again, it can be difficult to diagnose if you don’t know what you are looking for. However, if you do have abnormalities in your mouth, it doesn’t hurt to have them looked at by a professional.

Gaining an Understanding of the Symptoms of Oral Cancer

The next step in raising awareness is learning all about the symptoms of oral cancer. Oftentimes the symptoms are hard to spot because they are mild. For example, oral cancer might first appear as a mouth sore. That being said, you can watch out for a few things that might be a giveaway that it’s oral cancer.

Take the mouth sore, for example. If you have a mouth sore, consider how long it has been there. Sores in the mouth that have been there longer than three weeks could be a sign of oral cancer. If you have a sore in your mouth that won’t heal, have it looked at by a dentist to be sure.

Some other signs of oral cancer could be red or white patches in your mouth. These can appear on nearly any surface. Also, you should pay attention to areas of your mouth that have gone numb and don’t get their feeling back.

Oral Cancer: What Causes It?

Trying to determine what causes oral cancer can be difficult. That is because, sometimes, oral cancer develops through no fault of your own. That being said, some things can contribute to you developing oral cancer or at least increase your risk of getting it.

Tobacco

Few items increase your risk of getting oral cancer more than tobacco. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly two of every three cases of oral cancer are directly linked back to tobacco. Remember that this includes both smoking and chewing tobacco.

Alcohol

Drinking from time to time isn’t going to give you oral cancer. However, drinking heavy could. Dental experts label heavy drinking as having more than 21 alcoholic drinks in a week. If you are drinking and using tobacco, you are increasing your odds of getting it even further.

Age and Gender

Of course, there are some problems that are outside of your control and can lead to the development of oral cancer. One example of this is gender. Did you know that nearly two-thirds of oral cancer cases are in men? Additionally, most oral cancer cases occur in people over the age of 45. Thus, aging men have a much higher risk of getting oral cancer than aging women.

Treating Oral Cancer

The first thing that you need to know is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to treating any kind of cancer. The treatment that you receive will be based solely on your needs and the type of cancer that you have.

Typically, the first step is to visit your Northern Virginia oral surgeon. A dental professional will be able to do a full examination of your mouth using X-rays. Typically, all of the work can be done within the oral surgeon’s office, but in some cases, treatment may need to be finished at the hospital.

When it comes time for surgery, your oral surgeon will remove all of the suspicious tissue. Afterward, the tissue will be sent to a lab to be tested. For some cases, simply removing the affected tissue is enough. Other times, different treatments, such as chemotherapy, are necessary.

How to Prevent Oral Cancer

There is no way to completely prevent oral cancer. Sometimes, oral cancer just develops in certain people. That being said, there are ways that you can go about lowering your chances of getting oral cancer. Two ways are to avoid using all tobacco products and drinking heavily.

In addition, you should try to watch what you eat. Having a well-rounded diet is a great way to lower your risk of getting cancer in general. This includes eating fruits, vegetables and foods that are high in omega-3s.

Another good option is to visit your dentist twice a year for a cleaning. During these cleanings, your dentist will check for early signs of oral cancer. This way, if you do get it, you can get treatment quickly. The faster that you get treatment, the easier that it is to treat the cancer.

We Can Help

If you have oral cancer or are worried that you might have it, give us a call. Our oral surgeon in Northern Virginia can screen you for oral cancer. Give us a call today to set up a consultation.

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