Oral Cancer Awareness Month

When we hear the word cancer it might seem like a distance term, or you may have a very personal experience. “1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime” (cancer.org). Cancer impacts many people.   

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, which raises awareness about oral cancer and the importance of completing self-exams. Oral Cancer starts in the oral cavity (mouth) and the oropharynx (neck and throat).

This year there will be approximately 54,000 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed in the United Stated, and 43% of those diagnosed won’t survive more than 5 years. 1 person dies every hour. Those dying of oral cancer are often diagnosed after the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body. Therefore, early detection is the best prevention.   

Here are five things to know about Oral Cancer.

  1. You can lower your risk for developing oral cancer. Historically, there is a high risk for heavy drinkers and smokers older than 50, but it is also occurring more frequently in nonsmoking people due to HPV16 (human papillomavirus 16).
  2. Completing regular self-exams can increase your survival rate. Finding cancer early, before it spreads throughout your body, often has more successful treatment options.
  3. Know the signs and symptoms of oral cancer. If they are persistent and not resolving, having lasted for more than two weeks, see your dental professional. You can always call your dental professional right away if you have any immediate concerns.
    • Any sore or ulceration that does not heal within 14 days
    • A red, white, or black discoloration of the soft tissues of the mouth
    • Any abnormality that bleeds easily when touched
    • A lump or hard spot in the tissue, usually the border of the tongue
    • Tissue raised above that which surrounds it, a growth
    • A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, that does not heal
    • A lump or thickening that develops in the mouth
    • A painless, firm, fixated lump on the outside of the neck, that has been there for at least two weeks
    • Difficulty swallowing, chewing, speaking, or moving your tongue or jaw
    • Feeling like something is caught in your throat, numbness, hoarseness, or a change in voice
  4. Be aware of the common areas of oral cancer.
    • The tongue and floor of the mouth
    • Individuals that use chewing tobacco, are more likely to develop in the area between the lip or cheek and the gums where the chewing tobacco is held repeatedly.
    • Becoming more common at the base of the tongue at the back of the mouth, back of the throat, and near the tonsils, particularly in young non-smoking individuals and often related to HPV.


  1. Adjusting your oral hygiene routines at home during cancer treatment and after surgery is important. Experiencing sensitive oral tissue may occur during cancer treatment, indicating extra soft oral homecare tools. The many who do survive oral cancer, may have severe facial disfigurement, making areas to clean difficult. Here are some recommended oral hygiene aids for sensitive tissue and hard to reach areas.

TePe® Interdental Brush Extra Soft: These are small brushes specially designed to clean between your teeth, where a regular toothbrush does not reach. The extra soft bristles are gentle on sensitive tissue.


TePe Compact Tuft: This brush has a small dome-shaped tuft to access those hard-to-reach areas, especially any changes you might experience after surgery due to oral cancer.


TePe Oral Health Care is a Proud Partner of National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.®

TePe Oral Health Care believes in prevention and whole-body health, so we have partnered with the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The aim of the Pink Ribbon campaign is to provide help and inspire hope to those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education, and support services. For more information about National Breast Cancer Foundation and for ways that you can get involved– click here!

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