Oral Cancer Screening Cairns

Make sure you get your mouth screened for oral cancer

Oral cancer is a devastating diagnosis for many people because it is usually only detected in advanced stages when it has likely spread to other parts of the body. As a result, the 5-year survival rate is as low as 30%.

Regrettably, many dental offices do not undertake routine oral cancer screening and we do not know of any other offices in Far North Queensland who have invested in Velscope technology. Early diagnosis offers a vastly better outcome for complete recovery and a normal life thereafter. Future Dental performs oral cancer screening in their McLeod Street location in Cairns.

Why is oral cancer so often diagnosed too late?

Up to 50% of the population only visit a dentist in an emergency, so routine examination is not happening to pick up these problems.

Regrettably, many people do not feel any symptoms until the disease has reached advanced stages. Many people do not even realise that oral cancer exists, yet it probably accounts for about 4-5% of all cancers in Australia.

Are you at risk of oral cancer?

Oral cancer is currently on the rise in the Western World. There are four common risk factors.

  • Over the age of 40 years
  • Smokers
  • Alcohol drinkers
  • Younger people who are sexually active, especially with numerous sexual partners

If you think you might fall into one of these four current risk groups, perhaps you should be seeking a dental practice that actively checks you for oral cancer. We don’t know of a single clinic apart from Future Dental, where a thorough soft tissue and hard tissue examination routinely occurs despite the fact that all dentists are trained to do it. Future Dental is actively teaching student groups at JCU Dental School these particular skills.

NB: The over 40 age group, those who smoke tobacco or use chewing tobacco or smoke illicit drugs, those who drink alcohol especially in the form of spirits or who have a number of alcoholic beverages each day were always considered the highest risk factors in the past. Regrettably, with the large number of people who carry the Papilloma virus now, the known risk of cervical cancer is paralleled with oral cancer. Hence young people, who are sexually active, especially with multiple partners, have now significant risk factors for oral cancer. In this respect, safe sex practices can only be recommended.


What are the symptoms of oral cancer?

Some of the most common symptoms of oral cancer include sores on the mouth or lips that don’t heal over time; a growth in the mouth; loose teeth; pain when swallowing; a lump in the neck; unexplained bleeding from the mouth; constant earache; numbness in the face, lips, neck or chin; jaw pain; tongue pain; and unexplained weight loss. In many cases, however, people don’t notice any symptoms until oral cancer has reached an advanced stage, which is why we recommend that you see us for regular screenings.

What is oral cancer screening?

During an oral cancer screening, we will perform a thorough soft tissue and hard tissue examination to check for any abnormalities. Your dentist will examine the roof and floor of your mouth, as well as the back of your throat, tongue, cheeks and the lymph nodes in your neck. If any abnormalities, such as a growth or lesion are identified, your dentist will perform a biopsy to send for testing at a laboratory. They may also recommend an x-ray or CT scan to check if cancer has spread to other areas of the body.


How long can oral cancer go undetected?

Unfortunately, oral cancer often goes undetected until it reaches an advanced stage. In fact, many people don’t notice any symptoms until the disease has reached a serious stage. We recommend regular oral cancer screenings, particularly for individuals who are over the age of 40 years old; those who smoke and drink alcohol; and young people who are sexually active, especially with numerous sexual partners. Early diagnosis goes a long way in providing a better outcome for treatment and recovery, so it’s important that you get your mouth screened for oral cancer as recommended by your dentist.

What are the causes and risk factors for oral cancer?

Oral cancer can be caused by a combination of various factors, including genetic predisposition and lifestyle choices. While it’s not always possible to determine the exact cause of oral cancer in an individual, there are several known risk factors associated with the development of this condition. Here are some of the common causes and risk factors:

  1. Tobacco use (smoking, chewing)
  2. Excessive alcohol consumption
  3. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  4. Poor oral hygiene
  5. Betel quid and gutka use
  6. Sun exposure (lip cancer)
  7. Age and gender (more common in men over 45)
  8. Family history of cancer
  9. Weak immune system
  10. Vaping.

It’s important to note that having one or more of these risk factors does not guarantee the development of oral cancer, and individuals without these risk factors can still be affected. Regular dental checkups and screenings are crucial for early detection and timely intervention. If you have concerns about oral cancer, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice.

Has your dentist routinely performed an oral cancer assessment at every examination?

What are the main types of oral cancer?

Oral cancer can occur in various parts of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, gums, and the roof or back of the mouth. The main types of oral cancer are:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma: This is the second most common type of oral cancer. It develops from the squamous cells that line the oral cavity. Squamous cell carcinoma can occur on the lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, or the roof or floor of the mouth.
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common and affects areas where the sun reaches. While it is a malignant and locally destructive cancer, fortunately it has less frequent spread to other parts of the body ( metastasis).
  • Verrucous carcinoma: This is a less common subtype of squamous cell carcinoma. It typically appears as a slow-growing, wart-like lesion and tends to have a better prognosis compared to other types of oral cancer.
  • Minor and major salivary gland carcinoma: Salivary gland tumours can develop in the minor salivary glands, or the major glands, the parotid, submandibular and sublingual which are glands located throughout the mouth and throat. These tumours can be cancerous and require proper diagnosis and treatment.
  • Lymphomas: Lymphomas are cancers that affect the lymphatic system. While they primarily occur in lymph nodes, they can also develop in the oral cavity.
  • Sarcomas: Sarcomas are rare types of oral cancer that originate in the connective tissues, such as muscles, bones, or blood vessels of the mouth.
  • Melanoma: Although less common, melanoma can develop on the lips or in the oral cavity. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that arises from pigment-producing cells called melanocytes.

It’s worth noting that oral cancer can also metastasise to other parts of the body. Early detection, accurate diagnosis, and appropriate treatment are crucial for improving outcomes in oral cancer cases. If you suspect any signs or symptoms of oral cancer, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for evaluation.

How is oral cancer typically diagnosed?

Oral cancer is typically diagnosed through a combination of clinical examination, medical history review, and diagnostic tests. Here are the common methods used for diagnosing oral cancer:

  1. Physical examination of the mouth and oral tissues.
  2. Biopsy to obtain a tissue sample for laboratory analysis.
  3. Imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, or ultrasounds.
  4. Endoscopy to visualise deeper areas of the oral cavity.
  5. Blood tests to evaluate general health and organ function.
  6. Use of our Velscope Oral Cancer Screening tool. We have the only one in Cairns to our knowledge.

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, the healthcare team will determine the stage of the cancer, which helps guide the appropriate treatment plan. Early detection plays a crucial role in improving outcomes for oral cancer, so regular dental check-ups and oral cancer screenings are important, especially for individuals with risk factors or suspicious symptoms. If you suspect you may have oral cancer, it is essential to seek prompt medical attention from a healthcare professional.


Make an Enquiry

  • Phone (07) 4051 4580
  • Fax (07) 4031 5226
  • Email info@futuredental.com.au
  • Address Ground Floor "Accent on McLeod"
    93-95 McLeod St

    Cairns QLD 4870
  • Hours
    Monday8:00am - 5:00pm
    Tuesday8:00am - 5:00pm
    Wednesday8:00am - 5:00pm
    Thursday8:00am - 5:00pm
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