In Australia, there are approximately 4500 cases of head and neck cancer each year. Out of the head and cancer cases, about 1400 are diagnosed with cancer in the mouth and tongue. Early diagnoses is important and can significantly improve the treatment outcomes.
Some of the risk factors are:
family – people who have had immediate family members with head and neck cancer have a higher risk.
Aging – risk increases with age. It’s more common with people aged 40 years and above.
Gender – males are at a higher risk than females
Tobacco – smokers have about 7 times the risk compared to non-smokers.
Alcohol – excessive drinkers have about 6 times the risk.
Immunity – people with a lower immunity, for example by taking certain medications have a higher risk.
The risk factors listed above are not exhaustive and there may be other factors. Go to the Cancer Council website www.cancer.org.au for more information.
By being a non-smoker and not drinking alcohol in excess can prevent most oral cancer. However, one in four people diagnosed with oral cancer has no apparent risk factors. It’s important to see your dentist regularly for screenings.
Numbness or bleeding in the mouth
Pain in mouth or when swallowing
Loose teeth or dentures
Swelling of the jaw
These above symptoms are not exhaustive and there may be other symptoms.
Oral cancer is a highly preventable disease and also very treatable, if caught early. Some of the preventative measures you can take are:
Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman or two drinks per day if you’re a male.
Have a diet which includes adequate amounts of vegetables and fruits.
Have an oral cancer screening by one of our dentists at your preventative care appointment.
Look at your mouth in a mirror once a month. If you see something different, let our dentist know.
Don’t wait for oral cancer symptoms to appear or self-diagnose. Take appropriate action by seeing one of our dentists at Lydiard St Dental Clinic. Our dentist will screen for oral cancer as part of our preventative care appointment.