By Sandra Rose  | 

There's a small spot on your tongue that doesn't seem to go away. You noticed it months ago but it's painless so you didn't get it checked out until you visited your dentist for a routine teeth cleaning.

The dentist examines the area and then performs a few diagnostic tests. He suspects that you might have oral cancer but you will need a biopsy to confirm his suspicions. Your dentist makes an appointment for you to see a cancer specialist.

Most of the time those tiny white or red spots in your mouth are harmless. But you will never know for sure unless you get regular dental checkups at least twice a year.

Someone dies from oral or tongue cancer every hour. Oral cancer accounts for about 9,000 deaths a year, according to the American Dental Association. Oral cancer has the worst 5-year survival rate of all cancers because it is rarely diagnosed early.

Harmful oral spots or sores often look identical to those that are harmless, but testing can tell them apart.1

Oral cancer usually affects men and people over 40. But over the past decade there has been an increase in patients diagnosed with oral cancer. This is probably because more teens are smoking cigarettes and the legalization of marijuana in some states.

African-Americans are especially vulnerable to oral cancer; the incidence rate is 1/3 higher than whites and the mortality rate is almost twice as high.2


Poor dental hygiene, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco or weed puts you at a higher risk for developing oral cancer. Prolonged exposure to the sun increases your risk of developing lip cancer.

On average, only half of those diagnosed with oral cancer will survive more than five years.3

Signs and Symptoms

What you should look for:

  • Tiny red or whitish spots anywhere inside your mouth or lips
  • Rough, flat, raised, cracked or crusty areas in your mouth or on your lips
  • A color change in the tissue of your mouth
  • A sore in your mouth that doesn't heal, or bleeds easily
  • 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 your teeth fit together
  • Changes in your voice or hoarseness
  • Prevention and Detection

    The best way to prevent oral cancer is to maintain proper oral hygiene (brushing and floss your teeth after every meal), avoid tobacco and alcohol use and get regular dental check-ups. Also, eating more fruits and vegetables per day reduces your risk.

    Taking one Aspirin per day has been shown to greatly reduce your risk of oral cancer. As well as drinking green tea daily.4

    Get your teeth cleaned by a professional dental hygienist at least once every 6 months. Dental hygienists are trained to look for signs of cancer.


    Treatment includes surgical removal of the lesion or tumor, a radical neck dissection (if the tumor spreads to the lymph nodes in your neck), radiation and chemotherapy.

    This has been your Medical Minute.

    More Info On the Web

    Oral Cancer -

    Oral Cancer Early Detection -

    Dr. Joe Lester - General Dentistry

    Atlanta Dental Center - Hi-tech Cosmetic Dentistry


    Any medical information published on this blog is for your general information only and is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider. and its affiliates cannot be held liable for any damages incurred by following advice found on this blog.

    • FeFe Feminine


    • Bibi



      :shocked: pulls out compact.... AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! "Whew! Just checking... carry on :coffee:

    • lovezoe


    • Eazy


    • NaijaGal

      I swear cancer is the there any body part that's safe...sad


      ..... drinking alcohol,

      Pours out wine I just won... "Way to spoil my day SANDRAAAAA" :wail:

    • Mr.BluPhi

      Those teeth....smh.

    • Eazy

      And those teeth are horrid.! That looks like a person who chews tobacco


      NaijaGal says:

      I swear cancer is the devil…is there any body part that’s safe…
      Nope you can even get it in your bones. anything that produces cells have a risk for abnormacy... so scary

    • lashellebelle

      Those teeth gave that fool tongue cancer!

    • Choco aka Hippie

      Interesting thanks...

    • Usual Suspect

      WUT - Don't pour that damn wine. Red wine is good for you. I have a glass 4 to 8 oz at least once week.....

      People are getting cancer like colds. :sad:

    • Mr.BluPhi

      Damn shame...after reading this post I went and brushed my teeth...

    • brownskin A.K.A Creamy

      Watch what you eat, put them sodas away get rid of that gum u buy at the register, breath mints, anything that is artificially sweeten, with ASPERTMANE) all the MSG produts , spices, Iodizied salt, (use sea salt) fast food , Mcdonalds not real chicken, Taco Bell, not real beef, Salmon it's cloned, soaps that contain things you cant eat, lotions, bottle water, it contains lithium, some mercury, and other chemicals, canned vegetables, fruits that have been sprayed with pesticides, whole milk the hormones in that milk from the animals. chicken that is bought in the store that is not cleaned and been fed hormones to grow bigger :coffee: sounds hard but its really easy

    • Eazy

      Damn creamy, what we gone eat then???

    • Usual Suspect

      :cosign: @ creamy

      Organic Free range meats, buy your fruits and veggies from farmers market or grow yourself (that's a stretch) but gardening is so fun!

    • brownskin A.K.A Creamy

      Look for healthy foods like raw vegs, catch your own fish, some fresh markets carry unprocessed meats, but todays meat are just awful, if you in a house try to grow you a garden of fresh vegs, leave that bottle water out unless you get fiji look for the ph levels on botled water if is under 8-9 put it back. it should atlaest be 9.5, some dont even have the ph on them cause they so toxizx it pathetic Dasani is on of them coke products, u just have to cahnge a lot of the things you do and become healthy, get rid of that toothpaste that contains flouride, there is others that dont have that stuff in it, deodorant that does not contain animal by produts. girl i been on this for a min and my life and body feels so good, watch the med the doctor give you as well, if fix on thing but hurts other things. My great gran lived to be 106 and she told me she was gonna die , i asked her why you say that she sid cause she tired of waking up. :blink: so i was like huh. but she was a wise old woman, but she never allowed store bought food in her house she keep a garden all her life. and only use what she grew to cure her illness :lol:

    • CheBell

      I'm a thyroid cancer survivor. While I was going through my treatments I had to go on a no iodine diet so I lived in the health food store. Organic can be more expensive but it tastes so much better than non organic foods. I had a radical neck dissection and I will say that was the worst surgery I have ever experienced. Took a year to fully heal.

    • Sandra Rose

      brownskin A.K.A Creamy says:

      get rid of that toothpaste that contains flouride...

      I agree with you about not drinking bottled water, but the main reason is because it does NOT contain fluoride. Fluoride is very necessary for the health of our teeth. Without fluoride the enamel softens and cracks easily, which leads to decay and root rot. Business is booming for dentists because of all the patients they see with rotting teeth from not drinking tap water. :no:

      Yes, Dasani is the worst of them. It is made by Coca Cola and it has been proven that Dasani is nothing but tap water -- the same tap water that the city uses in its municipal supply. Coca Cola makes other brands of bottled water as well. They were forced by the courts to put the words "filtered water" on their bottles.

      Also, the best deodorant to use is one that does not contain aluminum. The aluminum is what causes those painful cysts under your arms. Of course ALL deodorant on store shelves contain aluminum, so you have to really search for the ones that don't. Tom's is one that does not contain aluminum.

      Google the words "deodorant without aluminum" for more.