Oral cancer begins in the oral cavity and can affect other areas such as the lips, tongue, cheeks, sinuses, and throat. It's estimated that 43,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year and that 8,000 of these diagnoses will result in death. The majority of these diagnoses could be prevented with regular oral cancer screenings.

Oral Cancer Symptoms

Oral cancer is typically caused by tobacco use, alcohol consumption, poor diet, or too much sun exposure on the lips. The resulting symptoms are as follows:

  • Lump in throat, mouth, or on lips
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Bleeding in the mouth
  • Numbness or pain when biting down
  • White or red patches in mouth

Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings

Early detection can be life saving, not only with oral cancer but with any cancer in general. The best way to detect oral cancer before it gets out of control is to have oral screenings done at least once per year. The screening may seem simple and miniscule, but that one extra precaution could save your life.

There are two main types of screening done: clinical examination and oral examination. With clinical examinations, your dentist will look over the inside of your mouth for patches and sores and feel for any lumps on your cheeks, tongue, and other parts of your mouth. This is often squeezed into your checkup appointments because it is very simple. Oral examinations, on the other hand, are more thorough and involve the use of screening devices to detect signs of cancer or premalignant lesions.

Oral cancer is a rather dangerous type of cancer because it can spread without experiencing any pain or symptoms. If oral cancer goes undetected in its early stages, your dentist may discover the cancer after it’s too late. Having routine oral cancer screenings done can prevent this from happening, and the importance of these screenings cannot be stressed enough.


In order to prevent oral cancer, you should make some simple adjustments to your lifestyle. By following these few guidelines below, you'll have a better chance at having no issues arise in your oral cancer screening.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Maintain cleanliness of you dentures.
  • Wear sun protection on your lips.
  • Avoid all tobacco products.

Whether you're experiencing any of the symptoms listed above or not, you should make it a priority to ask your dentist about scheduling an oral cancer screening. That small step may end up saving your life.

To learn more about our Jenison dentists and the services we offer, please contact us here or call us at 616.457.9191. Our dental professionals strive to be the very best at providing patients with optimal care while making them feel right at home here in Jenison, MI.