The importance of detecting oral cancer

Did you know oral cancer (mouth cancer) makes up 6.5% of all cancers diagnosed per year in Australia?

Oral Cancer (also occasionally known as mouth cancer) also causes more deaths in Australia each year than Cervical Cancer? It is a form of cancer which is not often talked about though is fairly common in society.

Who is at risk of Oral Cancer?

Are you at risk of oral cancer? There are several groups of people who may be at risk, including:

  • Smokers of cigarettes, pipes, and cigars.
  • Users of chewing tobacco and snuff.
  • Heavy drinkers of alcohol, especially those who drink spirits.
  • People aged 50 years or older.
  • Sun exposure is known to cause skin cancer, including Melanoma, and the lips are one of the most common sites, especially the lower lip.
  • Sharp or rough edges of teeth rubbing.
  • Ill-fitting full or partial dentures or appliances.
  • The sexually transmitted Human Papilloma Virus that causes cervical cancer and cancer of the penis can also cause oral cancer, particularly in young people.
  • Do e-Cigarettes or Vaping cause cancer? Current research does not show that this directly causes cancer, but it is thought to increase the overall risk of cancer.

Why early oral cancer detection is important

Our check-up process always adds an oral cancer screening. This oral cancer screening ensures that any signs or symptoms of oral cavity cancer are detected. From this point, we ensure that it is treated through immediate referral to the appropriate surgeon and oncologists.

This form of cancer can affect a number of oral structures. The oral structures which can be affected by this type of cancer include the lips and tongue, the minor and major salivary glands, the throat, soft and hard palate, the jaws, tonsils, the floor of the mouth, the uvula, the mucosa of the cheeks and under the lips.

In Future Dental’s Cairns dental practice, any suspicious areas on soft tissues are manually examined, palpated, and viewed under a special screening tool known as a Velscope, of which we had the first one in North Queensland many years ago.

Oral cancer symptoms

There are various symptoms that may be caused by oral cancer, and as such, rapid assessment is needed for any of these conditions:

  • Any sore or ulcer in the mouth or the lips that does not heal rapidly.
  • Any scaly areas of dry skin on the lips.
  • Any firm or soft lumps anywhere in your mouth that do not disappear within a few weeks.
  • Any swelling in the jaws or lymph nodes under the jaw or the neck that do not disappear within a few weeks.
  • Any pigmented areas on the lips or inside the mouth need assessment.
  • Any white, red, or purple patches on the soft tissues anywhere in the mouth that do not resolve quickly.
  • Any unexplained movement of the teeth.
  • Any area that becomes numb or has a change in sensation, including pain or itching.
  • Any area of irritation or soreness that bleeds and does not disappear within a few weeks.
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
  • Having a constantly sore throat.

The above is not a full list of how Oral Cancer may present in a patient, but it is useful to know what to look out for.

Oral Cancer treatment

There are several ways to treat oral cancer. Treatment options may involve reconstructive surgery to remove the tumour or targeted therapy such as radiation and chemotherapy on the affected areas, killing cancer cells. As with most cancers, early detection results in a far higher 5-year survival rate than cancers detected at later stages.

Unfortunately, most cases of oral cancer are not in any way painful until they reach an advanced stage, at which stage the prognosis is already grave. Therefore, early detection can save the lives of oral cancer patients.

In any scenario, prevention is better than the cure, and as such, it is important to ensure that your dental check-ups involve a check for oral cancer. Has your dental office been looking for Oral Cancer when you have your biannual examinations? Are you even having a dental examination every six months? The chance of having oral cancer is possibly the strongest reason for regular dental examinations.

Check for Oral Cancer in Cairns today

If you feel you may be at risk of oral cancer, we can assist at Future Dental. If you have previously been to Future Dental for a dental check-up and clean, you may be aware that each of your examinations with us includes our thorough assessment for oral cancer. It forms an integral part of our oral health examinations and is a part of the dental examination often neglected by the dental industry.


Our team is trained in detecting oral cancers and knows what to look for. As a result of our experience in detecting oral cancer, Future Dental has saved a number of lives through early detection. To book an appointment, contact us today.

Make an Enquiry

  • Phone (07) 4051 4580
  • Fax (07) 4031 5226
  • Email
  • 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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