Oral Cancer

Dentist are trained to recognize signs of cancers of the mouth and pharyngeal regions.  As part of the patient’s comprehensive examinations, Dr. Nishizaka will check thoroughly for these signs.

The two most common pathways by which most people develop oral cancer is through tobacco and alcohol use and through exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV) – the same virus responsible for the majority of cervical cancers in women.  

Oral cancer often starts as a tiny, unnoticed white or red spot or sore somewhere in the mouth and often goes unnoticed until it has metastasized (spread) into another part of the body. It can affect any area of the mouth including the lips, gums, cheek lining, tongue, and the hard or soft palate.  When found early, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 % survival rate.  

Knowing the early signs can increase survival.  Early signs include: 

•A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal 

•A color change of the oral tissues 

•A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area 

•Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips 

•Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue. 

•A change in the way the teeth fit together 

While oral cancer has been found in individuals with no risk factors, the disease most often occurs in individuals that use tobacco in any form.  Alcohol in addition to tobacco increases the risk even more.  Oral cancer is more likely to occur in individuals over 40 years old and in those with prolonged sun exposure. 

If you notice any of the early signs please inform Dr. Nishizaka or your primary care physician.