Oral cancer is becoming an epidemic and early detection is critical.

Recent cancer statistics found that 1 out of 2 men and; 1 out of 3 women will develop cancer in their lifetime. The number of oral cancers has increased over a six-year period, where all other cancers have declined.

Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth, otherwise known as oral cavity. Oral cancer is most commonly found on the lips, tongue and floor of the mouth but can also be detected in the cheeks, gums, palate, tonsils and salivary glands.

Oral cancers are particularly dangerous due to the fact they are often not diagnosed until the later stages when it has metastasised to other parts of the body. This late detection makes it much more difficult to treat. 63 per cent of oral cancers are found in the late stage (Oral Cancer Research Foundation).

Symptoms of oral cancer

  • Swellings, thickness, lumps on lips, gums, tongue or other area of the mouth that do not go away.
  • White or red patches in the mouth.
  • Loose teeth.
  • Unexplained bleeding or numbness.
  • Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal.
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw.
  • Unexplained weight loss.

 Risk factors

Smoking is the leading cause of oral cancer (59%), followed by excess alcohol consumption (31%). Other risk factors can include:

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – interestingly HPV is the cause of the fastest growing oral cancer population under the age of 45, and is responsible for an increase in oral cancer diagnosis.
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
  • Genetics.
  • UV exposure.

Oral cancer screening

Pre cancer screening is usually carried out by a visual examination from your dentist or hygienist. In this screening your soft tissues are examined for any abnormal lesions.

Here at Riverside dental Spa we are fortunate enough to have access to the Oral ID fluorescent light. This type of technology allows us to identify oral cancer, pre-cancer, and other abnormal lesions at an earlier stage, potentially saving lives.

The screening takes approximately one minute. In this procedure a blue light is shined into the mouth allowing your dentist or hygienist to identify oral abnormalities not visible to the naked eye.

If an abnormality is detected we will more than likely refer you to an Oral Surgeon for further assessment, testing and diagnosis. This can include a biopsy or further scans.