Oral Cancer – Symptoms and Prevention
Oral cancer is the 11th most common cancers in the world. About 6% of oral cancers occur among persons under 40 years of age. According to Canadian Cancer Statistics, approximately 3 people die every day from oral cancer in Canada.
Oral cancers are serious illnesses of the oral cavity and can be life-threatening, if not addressed at the earliest. The good news is that Oral Cancer can be successfully treated if caught in its early stage.
A periodic dental exam done annually or biannually, can help in early detection of signs of oral cancer, and aid in timely treatment. It can help prevent complications and spread to other parts of the body. These dental exams also help change a few potentially harmful habits and reduce your chances of developing them.
Oral cancer is an abnormal growth in the mouth cavity including the:
- Inside of the lips and cheeks
- Floor of the mouth
- Salivary gland
- Back of the throat
- Roof of the mouth.
Being aware of the risk factors, signs and symptoms of oral cancer can help prevent it, lest you’re prone to it.
Some of the probable risk factors for developing oral cancer include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco products
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Prolonged exposure of lips to UV radiation
- Repeated trauma or injury to oral tissues
- Genetic factors
- Sexually transmitted HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) infection
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS:
Oral cancer is particularly dangerous, as a patient may not notice any signs or feel any pain during its early stages. It can only be detected by a dentist during the regular dental exam. Without any signs of pain or symptoms, it can often prosper to the secondary stage and spread to other parts of the body. Some common signs of oral cancer are:
- Changes in colour and texture of inner lining of cheeks, lips, tongue etc.
- Non healing ulcers of mouth
- Bleeding, pain or numbness in oral tissues
- Swelling and thickness of the areas of the mouth
- Lumps in mouth or throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Hoarseness of voice for a long period
- Ill-fitting dentures
PREVENTION OF ORAL CANCER
Prevention is key. Oral cancers can be prevented in the following ways:
- Maintaining good oral hygiene: Brush and floss twice daily to prevent oral infections that reduce immunity to fight against oral cancers.
- Stopping smoking or chewing tobacco and alcohol consumption: The dehydrating effect of both tobacco and alcohol is known to lower body’s ability to produce antioxidants that helps to prevent cancers.
- Avoiding prolonged sun exposure: The UV rays of sun light are known to cause cancers on prolonged exposure. It is better to use sun protection lip cream to reduce the risk of oral cancer.
- Eating nutritious foods: A balanced diet including cancer fighting foods can help you prevent cancers. These include: bright coloured vegetables and fruits, such as beans, cabbage, broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables, flax seeds, garlic, soy, tomatoes, grapes, oranges, etc.
- Getting regular dental exams: Frequent dental screening, at least once every 6 months is recommended, to detect and help treat oral cancers.
At Langley Dental Centre, we educate our patients about prevention and possible risk factors of Oral Cancer by assessing the oral tissues using VELscope® technology. Its quick, simple and effective in detecting oral cancers.
We are currently accepting new patients and offer oral cancer screening to all our new patients. Oral cancer screening appointments are available on weekdays, weekends and evenings too.