Every year, over 700 people in Quebec are diagnosed with oral cancer. Close to 300 of them die of it - that is almost one person per day. This terrible disease has a lower survival rate than many other common cancers because in the early stages these cancers are typically painless. Consequently they go undetected and undiagnosed until the disease has advanced and spread.
Fortunately, 84% of cases of oral cancer are detected quickly by a dental health professional. When caught at an early stage, oral cancer can be successfully treated increasing the survival rate to 80% and even 90%.
It is recommended that Canadians be checked for oral cancer on a yearly basis. Preventative measures such a screening for oral cancer is the best way to monitor your oral health.
What 'We' look for
Dentists play an important role in the early detection of oral cancer. At our clinic we believe that dentistry is about prevention. As such, the dental exam is the foundation for good oral health. If you visit our office regularly, you have probably received an oral cancer screening and didn’t even realize it. That is because the exam is simple, quick and completely painless taking only a few minutes of your time. [Ever wonder why I ask you to say "Aaaaaaah" or stick your tongue out?]
Oral cancer is typically found on the palate, tongue, lips, gums, and the floor of the mouth. My team and I check your mouth, throat and neck for subtle changes - changes that a patient wouldn’t normally notice. We routinely check for signs of oral cancer such as discolorations, lumps, redness or any changes to your tissue. The earlier oral cancer is discovered, the better the chance of survival.
Factors that may influence your risk for developing oral cancer include:
- Use of tobacco products - Smoking cigarettes, cigars, a pipe, or chewing tobacco
- Excessive alcohol consumption. [It is especially dangerous to combine smoking and alcohol]
- Prolonged and repeated exposure of the lips to sun
- Your age. Oral cancer is typically affects older people. Most patients diagnosed are over the age of 40.
- Your gender. Men age 45 and older are two to three times more at risk for oral cancer than women.
- A history with viral infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Research suggests that a diet low in fruits and vegetables may be a possible risk factor.
What 'You' should watch for:
In between your visits to our office, it is critical for you to be aware of what to watch for and give us a call if these symptoms don’t go away after two weeks.
- A sore or irritation that last longer than 2 weeks
- A lump on the lip or in the mouth or throat
- Red or white patches
- Unusual bleeding, pain, tenderness, or numbness of the tongue lip or face
- Difficulty or pain when chewing or swallowing
- A change in your voice or hoarseness, a sore throat that doesn’t go away or a feeling that something is caught in the throat
Just as a yearly physical is an essential part of your health care, a yearly oral cancer check is essential for providing early detection. If you have been putting off a visit to our office for your regular check-up, now is an excellent time to schedule one. Regular visits can be the first line of defense against oral cancer. Give us a call today!
Get checked yearly for signs of oral cancer.
It's safe and painless, and could save your life!
Be in control of your oral health.
Practice good oral hygiene, see your dentist regularly.