More than 5100 Australians are diagnosed with oral cancer every year. It’s one of the most common of cancers worldwide. Tobacco and alcohol consumption increases the risks of developing oral cancer by approximately 75%, however non-smokers and non-drinkers can also be affected.
An oral cancer screening can help to detect early signs of the disease before it progresses, and when caught early (stages 1 to 2) there is a survival rate of 70% to 90%. Without regular screenings, the subtle signs of oral cancer can go unnoticed and the disease can advance.
This is why it’s important to attend regular dental check-ups every 6 to 12 months, your dentist can conduct an oral cancer screening during your routine visit.Book online
Oral cancer screenings are part of a comprehensive dental check-up and involve a simple and painless visual and physical assessment by your dentist.
During the assessment, your dentist will check for red or white patches or abnormal spots inside your mouth, around the lips, soft tissue, tongue and palate. Your dentist may use fluorescent lighting for a clearer view of your mouth and apply pressure with their fingers to check for any lumps or swollen areas.
If your dentist finds something unusual, they may refer you to an oral medicine specialist for a biopsy. Your dentist may also wish for you to return so they can monitor your mouth condition. When caught early, oral cancer can be easily treated and has a high survival rate.
Your risk of developing oral cancer increases with the following factors:
Other risk factors for oral cancer may also a lack of oral hygiene maintenance, obesity, long-term sun exposure (linked to lip cancer), a weakened immune system and genetics.
Signs and symptoms of oral cancer may include but are not limited to:
Oral cancer can often progress without symptoms, which is why it’s necessary to attend regular dental check-ups every 6 to 12 months with your dentist. They can provide a screening to help catch the disease early enough to be treated.
Your dentist or doctor takes various factors into consideration when checking for oral cancer. This includes your risk factors such as age and lifestyle habits as well as any symptoms that may appear in your screening. Making a diagnosis can be complicated and may require a referral to an oral medicine specialist for a second opinion and/or biopsy.
An oral cancer screening is free and is part of your routine check-up with your dentist.
It is recommended that you have an oral cancer screening every 12 months if you are over the age of 40 years. If you are between the ages of 20 and 39 years, you are encouraged to have an oral cancer screening every three years.
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