Oral Cancer Information

Oral Cancer treatment directly affects your mouth and teeth, and your dentist can diagnose it early transforming survivability rates.

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Oral Cancers

Cancer is a condition that has affected everyone in one way or another through family or friends. Oral cancer is one that you probably have not heard about. While not common, it has a high mortality rate. Because detection usually occurs only once it is in its final stage, it has lower survival rates than many other forms of cancer; on average 50% over five years.

Where Does Oral Cancer Occur?

Oral Cancer can occur anywhere including the lips, gums, salivary glands and cheeks. However, the highest incidences are found around the tongue and floor of the mouth.

How Can We Prevent Oral Cancer?

Like other forms of cancer there is no one way to prevent it, but there are steps we can take to avoid oral cancer risk factors and ways to maximise our chances of detecting it early.

Risk factors that have been associated with oral cancer are lifestyle habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption, and especially their combination. People who smoke and drink have a dramatic increase in their chance of contracting oral cancer during their life. Other risk factors of note are excessive sun exposure, a diet lacking in key vitamins and nutrients, and testing positive to Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) types 16 and 18.  HPV is a sexually transmitted virus and its types 16 and 18 correlate with a higher incidence of oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Awareness and Detection

Some of the signs our patients can look for when checking for oral cancer are irritating lumps or ulcers within the mouth that don’t heal. Any evidence of difficulty in swallowing or eating or restricted movement of the tongue or jaw should be noted. Any swellings or enlargements in the jaw that don’t allow appliances (such as dentures) to fit properly anymore should be brought to your dentist’s attention. Further, any prolonged difficulty in speaking or swelling of glands should be treated with suspicion.

Early detection is the key for decreasing oral cancer deaths.  An oral cancer screen by your dentist once a year takes only a few minutes and consists of extra-oral and intraoral exams.

The Extra-oral exam involves a visual check of the head and neck looking for any discolorations of skin, sores, and general symmetry of head and neck structures, as cancers are typically asymmetrical.  It also involves palpation of the glands in the neck, face, and around the ears. The Intra-oral exam involves palpation of the floor of the mouth, inside the cheeks, as well as a visual inspection of the tongue, floor of mouth, cheeks, hard and soft palates, throat, and gums.

In addition, we at Avenue Dental are introducing a new component to our Oral Cancer screen.  It is Fluorescence technology called Oral ID, which allows your dentist to shine a blue light that identifies abnormal lesions that may be oral cancers

What Should I Do To Reduce My Chances Of Getting Oral Cancer?

We recommend limiting alcohol consumption, reducing smoking rates and the combination of the two. Safe sex should be common practice, especially with multiple sexual partners. Apply sunscreen regularly to avoid sunburn and a healthy diet is important.

Schedule regular dental examinations to maintain general health as well as yearly checks for any signs or symptoms of oral cancer to maximize any early detection for a nine times higher treatment success.

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