Did you know that every day, at least three Australians are being diagnosed with oral cancer?
Here at Beenleigh Marketplace Dental, oral cancer checks are regularly performed at each examination. Like any other form of cancer, regular check-ups are essential to ensure more success in early detection and treatment.
Oral cancer is readily diagnosed but it’s often discovered quite late in its development generally when it has already spread to another location such as the lymph nodes of the neck. Approximately 84% of oral cancer cases can be detected early by a dental health professional. The aim of this important check is to discover any signs of cancer in your mouth early so that medical treatment can begin as soon as possible.
Am I at risk for oral cancer?
Risks will differ form each patient but some key risk factors for oral cancer can include:
- Age (over 40’s are more at risk)
- Smoking or tobacco use
- Heavy alcohol use
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Gender (men are more susceptible)
- Unhealthy diet
- Prolonged sun exposure
Although patients who are diagnosed with oral cancer usually have at least one of these risk factors, there is a growing rate of people that are diagnosed with oral cancer who have no risk factors at all. If you don’t have any of the factors above, oral cancer screenings are still very important in maintaining your dental and overall health.
Do I need to get checked for oral cancer?
Beenleigh Marketplace Dental will screen you as part of your six monthly dental exam. However, it’s important that you keep an eye out for any symptoms and warning signs.
Some early signs of oral cancer can include:
- Any mouth sore or lesion that does not heal within two weeks
- Discoloured (red or white) patches in the mouth
- Lumps or thickened areas in the cheek
- Numbness in your tongue or mouth
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue
- Slurring words
- Chronic hoarseness, sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in your throat
- Swelling of the jaw; denture wearers might notice that the dentures don’t fit or become uncomfortable
How will Beenleigh Marketplace Dental check for oral cancer?
- Visual Exam – Your dentist will examine your oral tissues easily by looking at your lips and inside your mouth. Your gums, the inside of your cheeks and your tongue (the sides and underneath) will be checked carefully. Also, your dentist will look at the roof and floor of your mouth.
- Physical Exam – After or during the visual exam, your dentist will touch the head and cheeks, around the jaw, under the chin and in the oral cavity to feel for unusual nodules or masses.
While this may seem like a lot of poking and prodding, this screening only takes two minutes or less to carry out. An oral cancer screening is precautionary and not diagnostic. If your Beenleigh Marketplace Dentist finds nothing abnormal during the exam, you will be recommended to attend regular six-monthly check-ups.
Is it time for an oral cancer screening?
If you are due for a dental check-up or wish to enquire about an oral cancer check, get in touch with our team at Beenleigh Marketplace Dental on (07) 3801 8799 to make your appointment or click here.
Some of the early signs of oral cancer may include mouth sores and lesions that don’t heal within two weeks; discoloured patches in the mouth; lumps or thickened areas in the cheek; numbness in the tongue or mouth; difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue; slurring words; and chronic hoarseness, sore throat or a feeling that there is something is caught in your throat. One may also experience swelling in the jaw, and people who wear dentures may notice that their dentures don’t fit or have become uncomfortable.
An oral cancer check involves both a visual and physical examination. During the visual exam, your dentist will examine your oral tissues by looking at your lips and mouth, as well as your gums, the insides of your cheeks, your tongue, and the roof and floor of your mouth. During the visual exam, your dentist will feel your head and cheeks, the area around the jaw, your chin, and inside the oral cavity. This will allow your dentist to feel for unusual nodules or masses.
An oral cancer screening generally only takes around two minutes to complete. The screening is precautionary, rather than diagnostic.