Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers today and has one of the lowest survival rates, with thousands of new cases being reported each year. The vast majority of oral cancers occur in people older than 45 years, with men being twice as likely as women to develop the disease.
The most frequent oral cancer sites are the tongue, the floor of the mouth, soft palate tissues in back of the tongue, lips, and gums. If not diagnosed and treated in its early stages, oral cancer can spread, leading to chronic pain, loss of functions, irreparable facial and oral disfigurement following surgery, and even death. Your dentist can perform a thorough screening for oral cancer.
Prevention is the key to staving off oral cancer. Two of the biggest culprits are tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption. Certain kinds of foods and even overexposure to the sun have also been linked to oral cancer. Some experts believe certain oral cancer risk factors are also hereditary. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the best defenses against oral cancer. Maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are highly recommended.
In general, early signs of oral cancer usually occur in the form of lumps, patchy areas and lesions, or breaks, in the tissues of the mouth. In many cases, these abnormalities are not painful in the early stages, making even self-diagnosis difficult. Here are some additional warning signs:
- Hoarseness or difficulty swallowing.
- Unusual bleeding or persistent sores in the mouth that won’t heal.
- Lumps or growths in other nearby areas, such as the throat or neck.
With the help of modern technology, screening for oral cancer is easier than ever. Generally, oral cancer screening devices use fluorescent lights to detect abnormalities in the tissue of your mouth. The different kinds of tissue in your mouth will appear to “glow” different colours.
Screening for oral cancer is quick and does not require any rinses, stains, or discomfort whatsoever. This, along with a traditional visual exam, is an effective process for diagnosing this debilitating, and often fatal, disease.
Oral cancer screenings are conducted routinely as part of a regular comprehensive cleaning and examination. If any suspicious lesions are seen in the mouth, a brush biopsy is taken to collect tissue for evaluation. A brush biopsy collects cells from all layers of a lesion for microscopic viewing to determine whether or not abnormal cells are present.
Everyone should have an oral cancer screening annually. Call us today on 01772 – 726932 to schedule a comprehensive dental exam and oral cancer screening – before it’s too late.