Are you at risk of getting oral cancer? Doctors don’t seem to know exactly why one person develops oral cancer and another doesn’t. The good news is that it’s not contagious. But research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop oral cancer. These risk factors include smoking, drinking a lot of alcohol, too much exposure to the sun (this can cause cancer of the lip), people who have a personal history of head and neck cancer, and having a human papilloma virus infection.
Quitting smoking has been proven to reduce the risk of oral cancer, as well as reducing the risk that someone with oral cancer will get a second cancer in the head and neck region.
What are the Common Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
- Patches inside your mouth or on your lips that are white, a mixture of red and white, or red
- A sore on your lip or in your mouth that won’t heal
- Bleeding in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Difficulty wearing dentures
- A lump in your neck
- An earache
How to Prevent Oral Cancer
Early detection is the key to beating oral cancer. Your dentist should always check your entire mouth for signs of cancer as part of every regular checkup. By detecting the early stages of oral cancer or noticing conditions that may lead to oral cancer, your dentist can recommend preventative action.
If you show any symptoms that suggest oral cancer, your dentist will check your mouth for red or white patches, lumps, swelling and other problems. If an exam shows an abnormal area, a small sample of tissue may be removed. Removing tissue to look for cancer cells is called a biopsy. Usually, a biopsy is done with local anesthesia and is the only sure way to know if the abnormal area is cancerous.
Treating Oral Cancer
If you have been diagnosed with oral cancer, it’s important to take an active part in making decisions about your treatment options. Your dentist may refer you to a specialist who treats oral cancer such as oral and maxillofacial surgeons, otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors), medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and plastic surgeons. You may be referred to a team that includes specialists in surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Other health care professionals who may work with the specialists as a team include a dentist, speech pathologist, nutritionist, and mental health counsellor.
Good Survival Rate When Caught Early
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, when oral cancers are found at the early stages of development, patients have an 80 to 90 % survival rate. If you have any questions or concerns about oral cancer, be sure to talk to you dentist at Dawson Dental for helpful advice and prevention methods.
Early detection is the key to preventing oral cancer, so be sure to visit a dentist that properly screens for oral cancer. Our Dawson Dental Dentists check your entire mouth for the signs of cancer at every checkup. Visit any of our 15 locations including dentists in Downtown Toronto, Kitchener, and Newmarket to ensure that you catch oral cancer early.
Dawson Dental Centres are knowledgeable, caring Toronto dentists in 15 locations across Ontario including Downtown Toronto, Cambridge, Aurora and more. We offer General & Cosmetic Dentistry services such as dental implants, Invisalign invisible braces and dental veneers. New patients welcome!