Mouth Cancer in Tampa and Spring Hill, FL
Many patients in Tampa, Spring Hill and surrounding towns in Florida mistake signs of mouth cancer for something more benign. With proper treatment, though, mouth sores can grow into something much more serious. Our board-certified Otolaryngologist/Head and Neck Surgeons recognize signs and symptoms of mouth cancer to allow you to receive effective treatment and improve your prognosis.
What Is Mouth Cancer?
Oral cancer looks like a growth or sore in the mouth that does not heal or go away. Oral cancer includes the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palates, sinuses, and throat. It can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated in the early stages.
What Are the Symptoms of Mouth Cancer?
The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Lumps, bumps or swelling of the lips, gums or other areas of the mouth
- Rough spots, crusts or lesions inside the mouth
- A white, red or speckled coating of colored patches in the mouth
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Unexplained numbness, or pain any area of the face, mouth, or neck
- Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks
- A feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue
- Hoarseness or a change in voice
- Chronic sore throat
- Ear pain
- A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit
- A dramatic weight loss
Contact your doctor immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms so you can receive treatment quickly.
Causes of Mouth Cancer
Risk factors for the development of mouth cancer include:
- Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop mouth cancers.
- Users of smokeless tobacco such as dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco products are 50 times more likely to develop cancers of the cheek, gums, and lining of the lips.
- Oral cancers are about six times more likely to occur in drinkers than in nondrinkers.
- Family history of mouth or other types of cancer.
- Excessive sun exposure at a young age.
- Certain HPV (Human papillomavirus) strains have higher risk factors for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC)
Over 25% of all oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke and who only drink alcohol occasionally. In addition to physician visits each year, you should also see a dental provider who also performs a complete oral examination and check for mouth cancer.
How Is Mouth Cancer Diagnosed?
Your doctor or dentist performs an oral cancer screening during your regular exam. Your doctor feels for lumps, bumps and unusual tissue in your mouth, neck, head and face. Your physician also looks for discolored skin in your mouth and examines any sores for suspicious looking symptoms.
If you have unusual tissue or sores in your mouth, your doctor may test the area using an oral brush biopsy. The test gently removes tissue from the suspected area and is painless. The doctor will then examine the cells for abnormalities. If the cells are abnormal, your doctor will then perform a scalpel biopsy. This biopsy is more extensive and is performed by a doctor under local anesthetic. If mouth cancer is diagnosed early, it is much easier to deal with because the cancer has not had a chance to spread.
What Can I Do to Prevent Mouth Cancer?
The following guidance may help decrease your risk of mouth cancer:
- Never smoking or using tobacco. If you use tobacco in any form, quit.
- Don’t drink alcohol, or drink in moderation. Binge drinking increases mouth cancer, too.
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Have regular dental examinations to keep your mouth in good health.
To prevent lip cancer, avoid exposing your lips to the sun. Repeated exposure to UV rays increases the risk of cancer of the lip. The lower lip is especially vulnerable to lip cancer. If you are in the sun, wear a hat and use UV blocking sunscreens or lip balms.
Mouth cancer is often mistaken for common mouth conditions, such as cold sores and abrasions. If you have an unusual sore or lump in your mouth, contact Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists in Tampa or Spring Hill to schedule a consultation with one of our expert ENT physicians.