Did You Know That a Dental Check-up Can Provide Early Detection of Oral Cancer?

Dr. Allen Sun of Laurentian Dental Centre Kitchener

Dr. Allen Sun, Laurentian Dental, Kitchener

Physicians continue to voice concerns over the increasing incidence of oral cancer, diagnosed particularly among younger adults. Reports reveal that there has been a nearly five-fold increase in the incidence of oral cancer in patients under 40. Common risk factors for oral cancer include the use of tobacco products, alcohol consumption, and HPV infection.What’s more, the incidence of oral cancer in women has also increased, largely due to the number of younger women smoking.

Early detection is vital to surviving oral cancer! As dentists, we have the skills & tools to detect early signs of oral cancer & pre-cancerous conditions. By seeing us for those all important regular dental check-ups that include oral cancer screenings, we can help to win the battle against oral cancer. With oral cancer screenings, most malignancies can be detected in the early stages, while they are still highly curable.

Female dentist and happy male patient after successful exam and oral screening.

Oral Cancer Screening

When treated in the early stages, the survival rate is as high as 95%, but can drop to as low as 5% in late stages because as the disease progresses, the tumours begin to metastasize, or spread to the lymph nodes and subsequently throughout the body. Oral cancer death rates are said to be higher than those for Hodgkin’s disease, cervical cancer, or cancers of the brain, liver, kidneys or skin! Some of the warning signs of oral cancer include a tiny, perhaps unnoticed white or red spot, or sore anywhere in the mouth. It can affect any area of the oral cavity including your lips, cheek lining, tongue, gum tissues, as well as the hard or soft palate.

Other signs can include a mouth sore that bleeds easily or fails to heal properly; a lump, thickening, rough spot or soreness in the mouth, throat or on the tongue. Soreness or swelling that doesn’t go away, hoarseness when speaking, or difficulty in chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue or jaw.

Late detection and diagnosis remains the primary reason that both the incidence of, and the death rates from oral cancer continue to increase.

“Late detection and diagnosis remains the primary reason that both the incidence of, and the death rates from oral cancer continue to increase.”

When diagnosed only in it’s latter stages, oral cancer is a devastating disease. Late stage treatment usually involves major facial surgery with only about half of such patients surviving past 5-years. Unfortunately, too many people, particularly those with full dentures do not see us regularly for preventative care and as a result can put themselves at risk of not having oral cancer spotted early.

The bottom line? Getting an oral cancer screening during your regular dental check-up could save your life because many oral lesions are flat, very small, or in an area of the mouth that you may not easily see.So, sticking your tongue out at one of our doctors may help increase your chances for a long and healthy life.

Yours for better dental health,

Put Your Best Smile Forward!

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