Oral Cancer: Symptoms and Prevention

oral cancer symptomsOver 900 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in Australia every year. These cancers can develop in any of the soft tissues of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums or cheeks.

Mouth cancers can affect adults of all ages and are not always preventable. However, making changes to your lifestyle and asking your dentist for an oral cancer screening can significantly lower your risk of developing these diseases or help you get the treatment you need.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Oral cancer can develop in many areas in or around the mouth. It's not always accompanied by visible symptoms, but some of the warning signs to look out for include:

  • a sore, lump or swelling in your mouth, lips or throat
  • a red or white patch in your mouth, tongue or gums
  • difficulty or discomfort when chewing or swallowing
  • the feeling of something trapped in your throat
  • difficulty speaking or changes in speech
  • numbness or trouble moving the jaw or tongue
  • bleeding from the mouth
  • teeth feeling loose

These symptoms don't always point to mouth cancer, but you should still make an appointment with your dentist for an oral cancer screening to be sure. Call us on (07) 3355 1422 if you want to talk to a dentist in Brisbane today.

How to lower your risk

Knowing the risk factors for oral cancer is important for making changes in your life, which could lower your risk or improve your chance of getting successful treatment.

The main contributing factors for cancers of the mouth are tobacco and alcohol use. These account for 59% and 31% of oral cancers in Australia, respectively. Giving up smoking and drinking less alcohol can significantly lower the risk of cancers developing.

UV exposure is a common cause of lip cancers, so you should make sure you're protected from direct sunlight when going outside.

There is growing evidence that poor nutrition and poor oral hygiene may also increase oral cancer risk. Your dentist can offer advice about how to improve your diet and oral hygiene routine.

Mouth cancer is linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be sexually transmitted. Practising safe sex could also lower your cancer risk.

How is oral cancer detected?

Early detection and intervention greatly improve the chance of successful oral cancer treatment. Many dental clinics offer an oral cancer screening which may be recommended as part of your regular check-up or can be requested separately.

If you think you might have symptoms of mouth cancer, or you just want to make sure, you should make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible. Dentists may also detect visible symptoms during your routine oral health assessment and may recommend a screening.

Book an oral cancer screening in Brisbane

If it's been over a year since your last oral cancer screening, get in touch with your local Swish Dental clinic in Brisbane. We'll explain what the screening involves and help you make an appointment at a time that's good for you.

Call our Everton Park clinic on (07) 3355 1422 or our Mitchelton clinic on (07) 3354 3341.

References

1. Cancer Council Australia. Mouth cancer [Online] 2017 [Accessed August 2018] Available from: https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/mouth-cancer.html

2. Australian Dental Association (ADA). Oral Cancer: How you're increasing your risk [Online] 2015 [Accessed August 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/getattachment/Your-Dental-Health/Resources-for-Professionals/Resources-for-Older-Adults-65/Oral-cancer-how-your-increasing-your-risk-(1)/ADA-YourDentalHealth-OralCancer_V1.pdf.aspx