Just because you can’t feel it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just ask the more than 100,000 Americans who were diagnosed with cancers of the head and neck which includes the oral cavity, thyroid, larynx and pharynx. Oral, head and neck cancers claim approximately 13,000 lives per year. If diagnosed early, these cancers can be more easily treated without significant complications, and the chances of survival greatly increase.
Who should get tested?
Every adult!! Tobacco and alcohol users traditionally have been considered the populations at greatest risk for these cancers. Oral cancer cases are on the rise in younger adults who do not smoke. Recent research indicates this development is due partly to the increase of the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus. HPV-related oral cancers are more difficult to detect because these cancers usually occur on the back of the tongue or on the tonsils, providing even more reason to get screened regularly.
What are the potential warning signs of oral cancers?
- A sore in your mouth that doesn’t heal or that increases in size
- Persistent pain in your mouth
- Lumps or white or red patches inside your mouth
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing or moving your tongue
- Soreness in your throat or feeling that something is caught in your throat
- Changes in your voice
- A lump in your neck