In Australia, there are about 2500 new incidents or oral/pharyngeal cancer diagnosed every year. The risk of oral cancer is about 1 in 90 for men and 1 in 200 for women. It should be noted that the incidents of oral cancer have not decreased significantly over the past few decades.
It has been determined that approximately 59% of all mouth cancers are directly related to smoking. This is compared to around 31% which are caused by the excess consumption of alcohol, which is another high-risk factor. Therefore, needless to say, eliminating smoking and the moderation of alcohol can go a long way in the reduction of mouth cancer. In Australia, oral cancer represents approximately 6.5% of all cancers that have been diagnosed. In fact, more Australians have died from oral cancer than those from cervical cancer.
Fortunately, like many diseases, an early diagnosis provides a much better prognosis for those with mouth cancer. This is the primary reason why it is so important to maintain your regularly scheduled dental appointments. During a check-up, the dentist can perform an oral cancer check. Additionally, if you have any concerns surrounding regarding your health, it is important to let your dentist know.
Checking for Oral Cancer Symptoms
If you are a smoker, it’s important that you take note of any potential symptoms that might be an early indication of oral cancer. For example, one sign of oral cancer can be the appearance of a mouth ulcer that presents as a firm swelling or a white/red patch. In the early stages of oral cancer, you may not experience any pain.
Because of this, people have mistakenly delayed their dental examinations. However, it is important to continue seeing your dentist regularly. If you do notice any symptoms including the list below, it is essential to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible: Oesophageal cancer (food pipe)
- Swellings or lumps located in the neck
- White patches that are located in the mouth
- A growing or persistent lump that shouldn’t exist there
- An ulcer that is unexplained and has been present for over two weeks
Smokers must understand that if you smoke, you are generally releasing over 4000 chemical compounds into the air. Some of these compounds are highly carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Thus, statistics show that smokers have a 10 to 20 percent higher risk of developing oral cancer along with other types of cancer.
The areas that are most commonly affected in the mouth are; the palate, the cheeks, the tongue, under the tongue and the lips.
One of the best ways to lower the risk of mouth cancer is by stopping smoking, of course. However, it is also extremely important that you have regular dental appointments that can serve to screen for mouth cancer. Especially if you smoke or consume alcohol.