Welcome to issue nineteen of YOUR DENTAL CARE News.

In our eighteenth issue we discussed about the mighty mouth guard…. If you missed this issue please visit our website https://www.procarefamilydental.com.au/articles.

In this issue we will discuss oral cancer.

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Oral cancer.

Cancer is one of the most frightening diseases which affect many lives with terrible consequences. It is a disease which destroys lives, both the afflicted as well as their loved ones.

Worldwide oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer. It is estimated that 50% of people diagnosed with oral cancer die after 5 years. When this cancer is diagnosed late in its development 90% of these individuals will die from this disease. But if detected early the death rate at 5 years drops to 15%.1

Risks factors for oral cancer.

The biggest risk factors include smoking tobacco, chewing betel quid, and alcohol consumption. It is known that the consumption of alcohol and smoking increases the risk of oral cancer significantly. There is evidence that some viruses like the human papilloma virus can also increase the risk to oral cancer, though this is not a major contributor for this disease.

Is oral cancer only in the mouth?

The oral environment is not only restricted to the mouth but extends to the throat and lips. Cancer of the lips is a significant problem for individuals who are constantly exposed to UV radiation from sun exposure.

What does oral cancer look like?

Oral cancer in the mouth can appear as a white or red patch, an ulcer or raised white lesions on a background of fiery red tissue. The area may or may not be painful. Any ulcer which is present in the mouth for more than 3 weeks must be investigated with a biopsy.

How to detect oral cancer?

Currently, it is clear that early detection of any cancer leads to better outcomes for the individual, especially for oral cancer. There is no perfect method for detection of oral cancer. The technology available for early detection is yet to prove consistently reliable and accurate with diagnoses. The best method at the moment is still visual and manual examination.

Regular dental examinations by a qualified dentist is important for early detection of changes in and around the mouth. Not all changes in the mouth are likely to be cancerous. But anything considered abnormal needs further investigation with a biopsy. This is the only way to accurately determine the presence or absence of cancer. Sometimes the tissue changes can be precancerous. Early detection of soft tissue changes may lead to early management to avoid any significant disease.

In our next issue we will be discussing dental trauma and tips on what to do if you have an injury affecting your teeth.

Till next time stay happy and keep on smiling!

Best wishes,

Dr Roland Chong

  1. Australian Dental Journal 2016;61:432-439.

Roland Chong

Roland has over 20 years experience as a general dentist. Roland does all aspects of general dentistry with a special interest in prosthodontics (crown and bridge work) and cosmetic dentistry. A member of the International Team of Implantology, Roland is constantly developing his skills by collaborating with international experts.