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Oral Cancer Screening

aOral Cancer is one of the most fatal forms of cancer. The overall incidence in Canada is approximately 12 per 100,000 per year in men, and 5 per 100,000 in women. Approximately 1,100 Canadians die each year, of which it is estimated 70% could survive, if this form of cancer were detected early. Early diagnosis of oral cancer through screening and early detection is critical for improved survival. Because this form of cancer is largely asymptomatic until the later stages of the disease, it can grow unchecked and untreated for an extended period of time. Like various other cancers, this cancer if detected, diagnosed and treated in time can be cured. Timely detection is crucial because delays could result in the deadly disease spreading to the neck, throat, face and surrounding tissues. People of all age groups especially those above forty, are at a risk of this form of cancer. The tongue is the most common place for such cancers to occur, but it has also been found to occur in the cheek, lips, gums and other areas of the mouth.

Signs to watch out for:

Oral cancer has certain symptoms that one needs to be aware of, for timely detection and subsequent treatment and management. Some common symptoms are:

  • Appearance of lumps, patches, lesions, breaks or wounds in the mouth is a common symptom. These are often overlooked in the initial stages, as they are largely asymptomatic.
  • Hoarseness in voice or change in voice quality
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Numbness in the tongue and other areas of the mouth
  • Unusual bleeding or constant sores in the mouth or gums that refuse to heal
  • Non-healing ulcerations in the mouth, that are of mixed white/ red appearance and can become indurated. If these last longer than 2 weeks, immediate dental assessment should be performed.

How is oral cancer treated?

If there is a lump or tumor that is the primary cause of oral cancer, it may require surgery. Like most forms of invasive cancers, subsequent chemotherapy and radiation may also be required as part of the treatment modality. In case of any facial disfigurement, corrective plastic surgery may be needed to restore the look for esthetic purposes.

How can oral cancer be prevented?

Consumption of tobacco and alcohol is one of the major causative factors of oral cancer. Reducing or giving up their consumption goes a long way in the prevention of oral cancer. Recent research has revealed a correlation between certain foods and oral cancer. Having a balanced and healthy diet, regular dental checkups, maintaining good oral hygiene are some additional preventive measures for oral cancer.

To know more about oral cancer, prevention and treatment Call us at 905-453-7777