Oral Cancer is on the Rise

Oral and oropharyngeal cancer is on the rise. Symptoms of this cancer can present as canker sores or an infection that doesn’t want to heal.

Risk factors for oral cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Exposure to HPV (the human papilloma virus)

Oral cancer is divided into two categories:

  • Oral cancer affects the lips, cheek lining, gums, front of the tongue, and the hard part of the roof of the mouth
  • Pharyngeal cancer affects the throat, soft part of the roof of the mouth, the throat and the back and base of the tongue


Early detection will allow for more treatment options that lead to complete recovery. During regular and routine dental visits, a dentist or a hygienist will screen patients and can typically identify the more commons symptoms.

The most common symptoms of oral cancer are:

  • A sore that will not heal or go away
  • Pain in the mouth that will not go away
  • White or red patches on the lining of the mouth, tongue, tonsil, or gums
  • Lumps or a thick, rough spot
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing and moving tongue and jaw


If a dentist suspects oral or oropharyngeal cancer, he/she can perform a biopsy or will refer the patient to an oral surgeon for further testing.

The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons also recommend that patients perform a self-check each month.

Click on the following link for more information about oral cancer detection, risk factors and cancer facts: https://myoms.org/procedures/head-neck-and-oral-cancer.