Oral Cancer: Am I At Risk?


As college students, most of us aren’t concerned about oral cancer, but we should really start making our oral health a priority. I sat down with Lisa Ermak, a Delta Dental professional, to get the scoop on what exactly oral cancer is and what we can do to prevent it.


What is oral cancer?

Oral cancer is cancer that starts in the mouth or back of the throat.


Are there ways to prevent oral cancer?

The good news is you can reduce the risk of getting this disease by making healthy lifestyle choices. Tobacco, alcohol and HPV contribute to oral cancer. Eighty to 90 percent of oral cancer patients will survive if diagnosed early.


What are the symptoms of oral cancer?

Look for mouth sores that last longer than two weeks; swelling, growths or lumps anywhere near your mouth or neck; white or red patches in your mouth or on your lips; repeated bleeding from the mouth or throat; and difficulty swallowing or persistent hoarseness.


What should someone do if they believe they have oral cancer?

See a dentist to get a head, neck and mouth exam.


How does Delta Dental help those who have oral cancer?

We want individuals to remember that they should visit their dentist regularly, even if they think they are healthy. During a routine dental exam, a dentist can detect more than 120 signs and symptoms of disease, including oral cancer, just by examining the mouth, head and neck.


Can you tell us a little bit about your oral cancer event with MSU's Pre-Dental Club?

Awareness and education are key. We want college students who are away at school to remember that seeing the dentist regularly is still important, and they should schedule appointments while they’re home for holiday breaks or find a dentist on campus. Also, remember to make healthy choices. Tobacco, alcohol and HPV can contribute to oral cancer.