Cairns Oral Cancer Screening
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.
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.
Oral cancer is currently on the rise in the Western World. There are four common risk factors.
- Over the age of 40 years
- 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.