Why Oral Cancer Screening is so Important
Oral cancer is one of those cancers that can be treated if detected in advance. And the reality is that head and neck cancers are more prevalent than ever and having regular oral screening performed by your dentist or dental hygienist could save your life.
- Oral cancers are more common in men than women and evenly spread across the races.
- Due to the increased rates of HPV, oral cancers are more prevalent in younger populations.
- Poor nutrition and poor oral health can be linked to oral cancer. Risk factors:
- Tobacco smoking
- Betel nut/ tobacco chewing
- HPV exposure
- Sun exposure (lip cancers)
- Vaping: not much research is available, but some new research suggests that vaping can also lead to oral cancer.
Signs and symptoms
If you experience any of the following, consult your medical or dental professional immediately.
- A sore spot in the mouth that never heals.
- Pain in the mouth, head or neck that does not go away.
- An unexplained lump in the cheek.
- White or red patches in the mouth that do not resolve.
- An unexplained and continuous sore throat.
- Trouble chewing/ swallowing/ moving the jaw/ moving the tongue/ moving the neck
- A constant feeling that something is stuck in the throat.
- Bad breath.
- A change in voice.
Early detection of lesions can give more treatment options and can change the prognosis of oral cancer.
*HPV = Human Papilloma Virus
(Written by: Hilary Sherice Browne – Dental Hygienist)