Our office is trained to be on the lookout for many signs of disease. Many oral cancers have a high success rate of being treated, especially when diagnosed and treated early. Therefore, early detection of precancerous tissue can minimize or eliminate the potential effects of oral cancer.
There are multiple factors that might affect your risk profile. Though it is not definitive what triggers the mutation of cells, the following factors have been found to increase the risk of developing oral cancer:
- Tobacco and alcohol use: Any form of tobacco has carcinogenic substances which significantly increase the risk for oral cancer. Excessive alcohol use can also increase the risk.
- Age: As with most cancers, age is the primary risk factor for oral cancer, as most people diagnosed with a form of oral cancer are over 55.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): This sexually transmitted infection has strong associations with several forms of oral cancer.
- Excessive sun exposure: ultraviolet radiation from the sun can burn the lips and trigger the development of oral cancer.
The term ‘oral cancer’ includes cancerous growths in the cheeks, lips, mouth, throat, sinus, tongue, or anywhere in the oral cavity.
Symptoms of oral cancer include:
- A lump in your neck or throat
- Bleeding of your lips or oral cavity
- Visible sore on your lip or in your mouth that does not seem to heal
- White or red patches (either on your lips, tongue, inside of your cheeks, on the roof or under your tongue)
- Difficulty speaking clearly, chewing or swallowing
- Loose teeth
- Discomfort in your neck, throat or ears
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dentures that have become poorly fitting
How is Oral Cancer diagnosed?
Your dentist will usually conduct an oral screening exam as part of your routine dental exam. We know how a healthy mouth should look and the symptoms that we should look out for. Your dentist will feel for any lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, face, and oral cavity. When examining your mouth, your dentist will look for any sores or discoloured tissue as well as any of the other symptoms listed above.
What Can You Do to Prevent Oral Cancer?
There are some precautionary steps that you could take to minimize the risk of oral cancer. Most of these prevention methods revolve around maintaining a healthy lifestyle:
- Avoiding tobacco and consuming alcohol in moderation
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Using sun cream and lip balm
- Maintaining good oral hygiene
- Regular dental examinations
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed or are concerned about your oral health, do not wait for your next routine exam. Call or schedule an appointment with us at your earliest convenience.