Oral cancer is one of the world’s most common cancers and affects more than 5100 Australians each year. People who smoke tobacco and drink alcohol have 75% higher risk of developing the disease, however non-smokers can also be affected by oral cancer.
The important message to note is that when oral cancer is caught early (stages 1 to 2), it is highly treatable and has 70 to 90% survival rate. Signs of oral cancer aren’t always obvious to the untrained eye and the disease can advance with very few symptoms appearing.
When you attend regular dental visits every 6 to 12 months, there’s a greater chance of your dentist spotting any early signs of oral cancer during your routine check-up.Book online
An oral cancer screening is pain-free and simple. It involves a visual and physical assessment where your dentist will look inside your mouth, checking your lips, inside your cheeks, tongue, palate and other soft tissues for red or white patches or unusual spots. They may use fluorescence and apply a light pressure with their fingers to check for any lumps or swelling.
Dentists are trained to check for the most subtle signs that might indicate an abnormality. If your dentist completes an oral cancer screening and sees something unusual, they may refer you to an oral medicine specialist for a second opinion or biopsy. Your dentist may also request to see you again to monitor the condition. It’s important to understand that oral cancer when detected early has a high survival rate. Treating oral cancer will often require a team care arrangement involving a number of health professionals, depending on the type, location and stage at diagnosis.
The main risk factors for developing oral cancer include:
Less common risk factors include poor oral hygiene, obesity , long-term sun exposure (linked to lip cancer), a weakened immune system and genetics.
Signs and symptoms that might indicate oral cancer typically include:
The challenge with oral cancer is that it can often advance without any symptoms at all. Keeping regular check-ups where your dentist can provide an oral cancer screening can help detect the disease in its early stages when it’s highly treatable.
If you’re concerned about oral cancer and have questions or would like to book an oral cancer screening with your dentist, call Mount Lawley Dental on (08) 9227 8777 or book online.Book online
Oral cancer diagnoses can be complicated and may require a referral to an oral medicine specialist. Your dentist makes a clinical assessment based on a physical and visual exam along with any risk factors such as age, lifestyle habits (smoking, alcohol consumption and pre-existing medical conditions) and sends this information to an oral medicine specialist who can do a biopsy and confirm a diagnosis.
Free. Oral cancer screenings are par of your regular dental check-up.
For patients over the age of 40 years a yearly oral cancer screening is recommended. For patients aged between 20 to 39 years, an oral cancer screening every three years is recommended.