Oral cancer is on the rise. It is recognised as having one of the lowest survival rates, largely due to the disease often being diagnosed at its advanced stage. Patient survival rates correlate with the cancer’s stage of progression – therefore early detection is paramount.
Other major cancers – including breast cancer, cervical cancer and prostate cancer – have effectively decreased mortality rates due to early detection with current medical screening in place. Although oral cancer is a global health problem with increasing incidence and mortality rates, no national screening programs have yet been implemented. Dentists have a unique advantage during dental examinations to screen for oral cancer. Unlike other cancers, oral cancer screening is largely non-invasive and involves both visual and tactile assessment. It involves feeling under your jaw, assessment of the lips, cheek tissues, gums, palate tissues, the tongue, under the tongue and the back of the throat. We are looking for any ulcerations, red or white patches and any lumps and bumps.
At Rockingham Dental Centre we perform cancer screens during our routine dental check-ups, which are undertaken every 6 or 12 months. We encourage you, as our patient, to be mindful of your mouth. Becoming more familiar with what is normal means you will also be able to identify if anything changes. Feel free to mention these changes to us at any of your dental visits. And remember, smoking is a major cause of cancer in the mouth – the more you smoke, the greater your risk of cancer.
Quitting smoking reduces your risk of oral cancer and also gum disease (phone Quitline 13 78 48). Finally, don’t forget to Slip-Slop-Slap (and use sun smart lip balm)!