Each year, about 50,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with oral, oropharyngeal, and other head and neck cancers. Oral cancer occurs most commonly in the tongue, cheeks, throat, floor of the mouth, lips, and minor salivary glands. Mouth cancers are more common in people over 40, particularly men.
The first sign of oral cancer is often a small red or white spot or sore toward the back of the mouth or under the tongue. This makes it difficult to spot.
Oral cancer can also appear as a painless mouth ulcer that doesn’t heal normally. Be aware of any unusual lumps in your mouth or jaw area or persistent hoarseness. Difficulty or pain while chewing or swallowing are also signs of oral cancer. If any of these symptoms don’t get better on their own, schedule an appointment with your dentist.
The death rate associated with oral cancer is particularly high because it’s usually discovered in an advanced stage. Early detection is key to increasing your chances for a favorable recovery.
Your enhanced dental benefits include two screenings for oral cancer. It takes just a few minutes and improves the chances that any potentially cancerous or precancerous lesions will be caught early and successfully treated. Your dentist will carefully inspect the following areas for sores, spots, and lumps:
Be sure to tell your dentist if you’ve noticed a sore or lump in your mouth that doesn’t heal, pain, or numbness in your mouth or on your lips.
Soreness and swelling from surgery can make it uncomfortable to chew and swallow. The removal of large tumors may also affect your ability to speak.
Since cells in your mouth, neck, and chest are sensitive to radiation, radiation in those areas can make foods taste bitter or metallic or give you dry mouth. Other side effects include:
To help manage the condition and improve oral health, our Dental Xtra program provides enhanced dental benefits for enrolled program members who are diagnosed with oral cancer. These benefits are covered 100% with no out-of-pocket expenses when seeing a participating provider.
Members with health and dental plans from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield who have a diagnosis of oral cancer are enrolled automatically. Dental members who don’t have a health plan with Arkansas Blue Cross can easily enroll online.
To use your enhanced dental benefits, simply make an appointment with your dentist. To find a dentist in your plan’s network, visit our provider directory.