Expert Q & A

Signs of Oral Cancer

Aug 27, 2014 10:15AM
Question: What are some signs of oral cancer?

Senior Dental Care Expert,  Dr. Joshua Davidson
Are you sitting down? Oral cancer is the 7th leading cause of cancer in the nation. Early detection is key. By the time oral cancer is detected and biopsied, the cancer has likely metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body. Oral cancer is often painless and won’t readily be noticed by the patient until it becomes a lump or is painful. Oral cancer most often shows up in men, 50-70 years old who have a history of cigarette and alcohol consumption.

All dentists should be doing oral cancer screenings, but I would encourage all patients visiting their dentist to verbally remind the dentist (and hygienist), “Did you do an oral cancer screening for me?” The screen is very quick and your oral health care professionals, who are so aware of what “normal” looks like can detect irregularities and begin the process of monitoring and deciding what the lesion actually is.

If you notice unusual red or white patches anywhere in your mouth that have lasted more than two weeks, do make an appointment to see your dentist. He or she may be the one who saves your life.

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Joshua Davidson is a 2011 graduate of the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health. He simultaneously received his Masters Degree in Public Health. He currently works at the Neillsville Dental Center in Neillsville, Wisconsin while focusing on the issues of geriatric dental care.  For more information, go to
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