Could a Numb Chin Mean Cancer?
If you were to wake up with the sensation of a numb chin, would you shrug it off? Many of us would be tempted to believe that this numbness might occur simply as a result of sleeping in an awkward position or as being an early sign of an impending toothache. Although a numb chin can be the result of a dental issue, this symptom as a standalone occurrence without any detectable dental cause can actually be a worrisome sign of something much greater.
Numb Chin Syndrome
Numb chin syndrome is the formal name for a condition in which chin numbness occurs without any detectable cause. The symptoms of this condition include tingling or numbness in the general vicinity of the chin which may be accompanied by a similar sensation affecting the lower lip. Numbness may also extend to affect the gingival mucosa. Pain is typically not associated with numb chin syndrome, although in some cases individuals have experienced discomfort due to localized swelling of the area. If swelling and discomfort does arise the symptoms are likely due to an infection or growth which may press against local nerves and tissues.
Upon first experiencing this sensation, it is advisable that the individual meet with their dentist to rule out any oral or dental causes behind this phenomenon. Upon ruling this cause out, it is most likely that the condition will be a result of the inferior alveolar nerve sustaining damage or excessive compression. This nerve may be pinched as a result of infection or inflammation in the nearby area. As with any other nerves, when it becomes pinched it cuts off the signals transferred through the nerve resulting in a feeling of numbness or tingling. The alveolar nerve can also become pinched due to the development or growth of a tumor.
Numb Chin Syndrome and Cancer
In many cases when chin numbness occurs and no dental cause can be found, a tumor is often present. Unfortunately, the longer a tumor is left to reside in the body, the more likely it is to become malignant, or cancerous. Tumors in their early, benign sages often do not produce any side effects and therefore go unnoticed. By the time a symptom such as numbness becomes apparent, it is already likely that the tumor has been present for a while, thus more likely to contain cancerous tissues. The estimated survival rate of an individual with a cancerous tumor near the alveolar nerve is generally no longer than 12 months if left untreated or treated too late.
The typical treatment for a cancerous tumor in this region of the body is surgical removal. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that this method will remove all of the cancerous tissues or that the cancer will not return. Failing to remove the tumor will result in the development and worsening of other symptoms and most definitely the spreading of cancer to other tissues in the area. Again, failing to treat the tumor often results in a life expectancy no greater than one year from the onset of numbness of the chin.
If you experience numbness or tingling in your lower lip or in your chin, it is recommended that you first schedule an appointment with your dentist, as this condition can be caused by oral issues. If your dentist is unable to detect any possible causes, then your next step should be to schedule an appointment with your doctor, or preferably an oncologist who will be able to test for a tumor as well as cancer. If a tumor is detected, your doctor will be able to discuss with you the best course of action as well as answer any lingering questions you may have about your condition.