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Oral cancer Awareness

Most of us are aware of cancer and its effects on various regions of the body. However, do we ever stop and think how cancer can occur in the mouth? Oral cancer can be potentially fatal and the World Health Organisation has stated that it is the eleventh most prevalent cancer in the world.

Oral cancer can present in many different ways in the mouth including on the tongue, cheeks, lips and throat.

Anybody is at a risk of developing oral cancer however it seems to be more prevalent in those over 40, particularly men. There is also an increasing incidence of oral cancers developing in young people and women.

What can cause Oral cancer?

  • The majority of oral cancer cases are linked to tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption. Particularly when smoking and drinking are combined together. This can also include alcohol based mouth rinses
  • Marijuana users are also six times more likely than a tobacco users to develop oral cancer.
  • The human papillomavirus (HPV) which is the major cause of cervical cancer is now also being linked to oral cancer. HPV affects the skin that lines moist areas of the body (squamous cells). Transmission occurs when these areas come into contact with the virus. There are over 200 strains of HPV with only 9 associated with cancers.
  • Sun exposure may also increase the risk of melanoma on the lips.


Early detection of oral cancer

Oral cancer can appear in different forms and affect various areas of the mouth. Small changes and areas to monitor can be detected early by your dentist during an examination. Like most conditions if recognized and detected early then your chances of being cured are good.

Like advised earlier oral cancers can appear in many different forms. They can be painless ulcers which fail to heal normally, white or red patches on the soft tissues or any unusual lumps or swellings.


Keeping your mouth healthy

At Dentalspa of our patients are screened routinely for oral cancers at their preventative care appointments and examinations. It is important to maintain these appointments particularly if you smoke and drink alcohol. Also routine reviews are recommended for those who wear dentures.

During your normal home care look for any changes in your mouth. Keep an eye on any red or white patches or ulcers, which have not cleared in 3 weeks.

Always wear sun protection while outside- apply either zinc, sunscreen or SPF lip balm routinely.

Maintain a healthy diet full of vitamins that include fruits and vegetable. A healthy diet gives your body the best chance to protect itself.

Also aim to reduce alcohol consumption and smoking.

By Ashleigh Lilly

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