Mouth or oral cancer, or cancer of the oral cavity, is a cancer that starts in the region of the mouth and most commonly occurs on the lips, tongue and floor of the mouth
It can however, start in the cheeks, roof of the mouth, gums, tonsils and salivary glands.
WHAT DO THE DENTISTS LOOK FOR IN AN ORAL CANCER CHECK?
Oral cancer checks are routinely performed at Trembath Dental and the aim is to discover any signs of cancer early so if needed, medical intervention can begin. The earlier the diagnosis, the greater the chances of successfully treating oral cancer.
During these exams, Dr Trembath will look for any changes in your soft tissues including your tongue, lips and cheeks. If you do have any unusual lumps or legions that have been there for more than two weeks or you have difficulty swallowing, please inform us so we can undertake a more thorough exam.
The initial oral cancer exam is painless – Dr Trembath will use a light, mirror, and tongue depressor (to the hold your tongue down) whilst he examines your mouth for any signs of oral cancer or precancerous lesions that may eventually lead to oral cancer.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF MOUTH CANCER?
Some symptoms you may have mouth cancer can include:
- A lump or lumps in your neck
- White or red patches on the mouth, tongue or gums
- Difficult or painful swallowing when eating or drinking
- Wobbly teeth
- Swelling or a sore on your lip that won’t get better
- Changes in your speech
- Bleeding or numbness in your mouth
- Sudden and unexplained weight loss
If Dr Trembath has noticed any signs of oral cancer, he may request:
- A follow-up visit, a few weeks after the initial oral cancer exam to see if the abnormality identified has grown or changed since the last visit;
- A biopsy – in which a sample of cells is taken in order to determine whether or not there are cancer cells present.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS FACTORS FOR DEVELOPING ORAL CANCER?
- Use of tobacco: smoking greatly elevates the risk of developing oral cancer;
- Excessive consumption of alcohol: heavy consumption of alcohol puts you at a higher risk of developing oral cancer. That risk is increased even further if you happen to use tobacco and consume alcohol;
- Genetics: a family history of cancer can make you more susceptible to developing oral cancer;
- Human Papillomavirus: HPV is transmitted through sexual activity with an individual who has the virus. The HPV vaccine can prevent the virus from being transmitted to you.
- Weakened immune system: an immune system that is compromised in any way can increase your chances of developing oral cancer;
- Age: although there are instances of younger people developing oral cancer, those over the age of 40 tend to be more at risk;
- Significant sun exposure: those that have been significantly exposed to the sun for extended periods of time are at risk for developing cancer of the lips.
If you’re concerned about any abnormality you may have noticed in the oral cavity book an appointment to see the experienced team at Trembath Dental for a complete diagnosis.