Are you at risk for oral cancer?

It’s not one of the most talked-about diseases in the media, but the National Institutes of Health estimates that almost 50,000 new cases1 of oral cancer are reported annually. Oral cancer is known as a silent disease, but you can reduce your risk when you:

  • Get routine dental checkups: Your dentist will check for signs of oral cancer at each visit.
  • Avoid tobacco products and over use of alcohol. Used together the risk of oral cancer is greatly increased2.
  • Perform self-checks: Examine all of your mouth with a mirror regularly, to include the tongue and floor and the roof of the mouth.
  • Talk to your dentist immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
  • A sore in your mouth that does not heal within two weeks
  • Color changes in your mouth
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness in the mouth or on the tongue
  • Difficulty chewing, speaking, swallowing or moving the jaw or tongue
  • A lump inside the cheek
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil or lining of the mouth 
  • Jaw pain/swelling
  • Voice change 
  • Persistent sore throat and/or feeling that something is lodged in the throat
  • A lump or mass in your neck

For additional oral health information, visit:
To help identify your oral health risk and show how your lifestyle factors and medical conditions impact the health of your mouth, take United Concordia’s two-minute My Dental Assessment.


1Oral Cancer; National Institutes of Health; July, 2018
2Smoking, Drinking and Oral Health; University of Connecticut; 2018
3Check Your Mouth;; 2019



While anyone can develop oralWhile anyone can develop oralcancer, certain factors can greatlyincrease your risk. Routine dentalexams should include life-savingoral cancer screenings. Ask yourdentist about these screenings.

Oral cancer can affect the mouth, including roof, floor and cheeks, gums, throat, minor salivary glands, tongue, and lips.


Fast Facts


 More than 2xMore than 2xas common inmen as women

Each year in the U.S., roughlyEach year in the U.S., roughly48,000people will be diagnosedwith oral cancer. That’s about132 people per day. Over 90% of cases are squamousOver 90% of cases are squamouscell carcinomas, which begin in thecells that form the lining of themouth and throat Another 9,600 people willAnother 9,600 people willdie from oral cancer in the U.S.this year. That’s at least oneperson per hour, every hourof the day. Average ageAverage ageof diagnosis – 62




The riskThe riskgreatlyincreaseswhen heavy useof both tobacco andalcohol are combined.

  • Tobacco useUC Mar19 Mouth 200x291px
  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol use
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • UV light exposure(usually from sun/tanning beds)
  • Poor diet
  • Compromised immune system
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Graft-versus-host-disease(due to stem cell transplant)
  • Untreated periodontal (gum) disease


If you experience any of the following symptoms for more than 2 weeks, talk to your doctor.

Mouth sore that doesn’t heal

Persistent sore throat that doesn’t get better

Thickening or lump in the cheek

Mouth painWhite or red patches on the tonsils, mouth, tongue or gums

Tingling or numbness in the mouth or tongue

Trouble chewing, swallowing, or moving the jaw and/or tongueLoosening or pain around the teeth

Lump or mass in the neck

Swelling of the jaw (may notice dentures not fitting) Consistent bad breath Weight loss Voice changes



While oral cancer is not always preventable, there are things you can do to significantly reduce your risk. 

Limit or quit smoking and drinking alcohol.

Avoid exposure to HPV – use protection during oral sex

Reduce exposure to UV light – protect yourself from the sun and don’t use tanning beds

Follow a healthy diet

Make sure dentures fit properly

Intervene early to treat pre-cancerous growths

Visit the dentist regularly for checkups

Visit the dentist regularly for checkups


United Concordia Dental


Important Disclosures: United

Sources: Oral Cancer; National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research; 2016

Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer; American Cancer Society; 2016

Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Month; Oral Cancer Foundation; 2017

Dental; Oral Cancer Foundation; 2016

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