Prevent oral cancer- do you know the signs?Oral Care Tips
Posted: June 14, 2018
Oral Cancer is a potentially fatal disease that can affect anyone from young adults right through to the elderly. It is caused by a variety of lifestyle risks, many of which are a part of the daily lives of the majority of Australians. The incidence of oral cancer in Australia is increasing, with oral cancers in Australia accounting for 2.9% of all cancers, and 1.6% of deaths from cancer.
Early detection is critical. Therefore, knowing the signs and symptoms of oral cancer and taking preventative action including annual oral examinations can ensure a healthy mouth.
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer or mouth cancer involves cancer of the oral cavity and describes a number of cancers that start in the region of the mouth. These most commonly occur on the lips, tongue and floor of the mouth but can also start in the cheeks, gums, roof of the mouth, tonsils and salivary glands.
What are the signs of oral cancer?
As with many other types of cancer, the signs and symptoms of oral cancer vary from person to person.
Some of the most common signs include:
- mouth sores
- pain that doesn’t go away
- white or red patches on the gums, tonsils, or the lining of the mouth.
Other symptoms include:
- swelling in your neck
- a lump in your cheek
- difficulty swallowing or chewing
- feeling like something is caught in your throat
- trouble moving your jaw or tongue
- unexplained weight loss
- constant bad breath
- changes in speech
- bleeding or numbness in the mouth
What causes oral cancer?
The main risk factors for most mouth cancers are tobacco and alcohol consumption. Other risk factors can include:
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- family history of mouth cancers
- poor oral hygiene and gum disease
- exposure to the sun
- chewing the seed of the areca palm tree (sometimes called areca or betel nut).
Signs of oral cancer are often first detected by your dentist. Your doctor or dentist is likely to examine your mouth, throat, tongue, cheeks, ears and eyes.
It is now well established that early detection of oral cancer and potentially malignant oral lesions can improve the clinical outcome for patients. Dentists are well-trained to identify such lesions. An oral cancer examination, as part of a comprehensive oral examination, takes only a short time.
If you are experiencing any of the above signs and symptoms or have any concerns at all in this area, it is highly recommended that you visit your dentist.
To find an experienced and caring independent dentist near you click here
Australian Dental Association