Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer, is a subtype of head and neck cancer.

There are close to 10000 cases of oral cancer diagnosed each year. Over 6,500 of these cases result in death.

Oral cancer can be found in the lips, tongue, salivary glands, gums and throat. Signs of oral cancer are: soreness in the throat, sharp pain in one ear, difficulty moving the tongue and jaw, difficulty chewing and swallowing, lumps, sores and ulcerations in the mouth, neck lumps and swellings, partial numbness in the mouth or jaw, bleeding from the gum.

The treatment for oral cancer will be determined by the stage and grade of the cancer. Surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy will be performed accordingly. Cancer that has spread to other parts of the body will require the removal of tumors as well in those areas. A neck dissection will allow for the removal of tumors within the neck.

When surgical treatment is either not necessary or cannot be performed, specialists may choose radiation therapy or chemotherapy as an alternative. In some cases, a combination of the methods mentioned is used to fight the cancer.

Treatment for oral cancer is often extensive and sometimes requires patients to undergo reconstructive surgery and/or speech therapy to restore the functionality and appearance of the affected regions. Some patients may need additional devices to enable them to speak properly.

The risk factors for oral cancer are: irritation to the gums, tongue or mouth, smoking, alcohol abuse, extensive ultraviolet exposure. Self-examinations are strongly advised in order to quickly detect any possible abnormality. To perform self-examination, carefully assess the mouth in all areas including the gums, teeth, tongue, cheeks, roof of the mouth and throat. The tissue underneath the lips should also be checked by lifting the lips.

Symptoms of oral cancer can be confused with other medical conditions and can never replace the professional examination of a dentist or hygienist.

Dental examinations at Lawrence Park Dentistry are critical to the prevention of serious health problems and must be performed at least twice a year. It is the combination of self-assessment and regular dental visits that will strongly aid the early detection of oral cancer.