February 4th marks World Cancer Day, which aims to raise awareness of cancer and encourages prevention, detection, and treatment. We at Bonnells Bay Dental are all about protecting your smile for life and thought we’d take the opportunity to discuss oral cancer as many people know very little about it but is actually more common than you may think.
Every day, at least three Australians are being diagnosed with oral cancer. Survival rates for oral cancer remain low despite advances in treatment and this can be attributed to late detection. Recognizing the risk factors and signs of oral cancer is vital to better prognosis and outcomes.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is cancer of the oral cavity and is often used to describe a number of cancers that start in the region of the mouth. These most commonly occur on the lips, tongue and floor of the mouth but can also start in the cheeks, gums, roof of the mouth, tonsils, and salivary glands.
Oral cancer can affect anybody and upon early detection most oral cancers can be treated. It is when we disregard tell-tale signs or neglect our mouths and do not attend regular check-ups that we can run into some trouble.
How to Spot Oral Cancer
By spotting oral cancer early, we have a much better chance of beating it.
With early diagnosis, the chances of surviving oral cancer are 9 out of 10 – those odds are really good, and that’s why knowing what to look out for is so important.
Sadly, far too many oral cancers are not spotted early enough due to lack of awareness and poor oral hygiene.
Most importantly, if you notice anything out of the ordinary, it is essential that you tell your dentist or doctor immediately.
Oral cancer can strike in a number of places including lips, tongue, gums, and cheeks.
Look out for these signs:
- Ulcers which do not heal within 3 days
- Red and white patches in the mouth
- Lumps or swellings in the mouth or head and neck area
If you are experiencing any of the above, it is important to visit your dentist as early detection is crucial, so if you’re in doubt, get it checked out.