What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer is a cancer that occurs in the mouth. It starts in the cells that make up the inside of the mouth and lips. The most common type of oral cancer is squamous cell carcinoma- it makes up for about 90% of oral cancers. Early signs of oral cancer are usually asymptomatic, normally seen as red or white patches or ulcers on the tongue and lip that are still present after two – three weeks. Pain is seldom a symptom with these lesions.
Getting an early diagnosis is one of the most important factors that will influence the prognosis. Dentists often find oral cancer in the early stages as the mouth and lips are easily examined at regular appointments. Oral cancers can be very aggressive and debilitating, depending on the type of cancer- which is why it is so important to have regular check-ups. Another important thing to know is that it isn’t only smokers who are at risk for getting oral cancer, and there aren’t always symptoms.
Who is at risk of oral cancer, and what are the symptoms?
Although some of these will be out of your control some of the risk factors for oral cancer include:
-Weakened Immune System
-Risk increases over the age of 40
-Past and Present use of tobacco products
-Ill-fitting dentures which cause chronic mouth irritation
-excess sun exposure
The symptoms of mouth cancer can include:
-A change in your voice
-Pain in ear or jaw
-A sore on lip or in your mouth that isn’t healing
-swelling in the jaw
-pain/trouble when eating and swallowing
-white or red patches on the gums/tongue/in mouth
-abnormal bleeding or numbness in the mouth
-unexplained weight loss
-loose or painful teeth
The best way to detect oral cancer at the earliest stages is through routine dental check-ups, as early presentation is usually painless and comes unaccompanied by symptoms. If your dentist suspects oral cancer they will refer you to an oral surgeon for a second opinion. To book an appointment for a full mouth check-up please contact our friendly team at Coomera Dental Centre.