Oral Cancer Screening
It can affect any area of the mouth including the lips, gums, cheek lining, tongue, and the hard or soft palate. When found early, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 % survival rate. Dental professionals can act as a first line of defence in the early detection of oral cancer. Your dentist includes oral cancer screening as part of a routine oral exam. Knowing the early signs can increase survival.
Early signs include:
- A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal
- A colour change of the oral tissues
- A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue.
- A change in the way the teeth fit together
While oral cancer has been found in individuals with no risk factors, the disease most often occurs in individuals that use tobacco in any form. Alcohol in addition to tobacco increases the risk even more. Oral cancer is more likely to occur in individuals over 40 years old and in those with prolonged sun exposure. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables may help prevent cancer. If you notice any unusual spots anywhere in your mouth, contact your dentist immediately for an exam. Be sure to note how long the spot has been there and if it has grown or changed in colour or consistency. Remember, early detection is the best strategy for survival.