Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer (or mouth cancer) are cancers of the tongue, lips, cheeks, mouth and adjacent areas. It is the 6th most common form of cancer in the UK.
Early detection of oral cancer is key. Survival rates are roughly 90% when spotted early, dropping to 50% for delayed diagnosis.
- Each year around 7,800 new cases of mouth and oropharyngeal cancer are diagnosed in the UK.
- Oral cancer usually occurs in the mouth, around the tongue and lips, but it can also occur in adjacent areas like the throat, salivary gland, pharynx, larynx, sinus, or other parts of the head.
- Tobacco is still considered to be the main cause of mouth cancer, but it can occur in non-smokers as well.
- Regular oral cancer screening and early detection of oral cancer symptoms increase the chances for successful treatment.
In the last decade, the incidence rate for oral cancer in the UK has increased by up to 25%, but that more than half of cases are diagnosed at a late stage? The early signs and symptoms of oral cancer are often unnoticeable, causing no pain and appearing minor to the average person.
However, it’s important for a professional to do an oral cancer screening, because up to 93% of oral cancer cases are preventable and taking early measures can increase treatment success rate.
What does Oral Cancer Screening involve?
At West House Dental, cancer screening is part of every routine and new patient examination. Every time you come by our clinic in London, our oral cancer screening dentists will carefully examine your mouth and throat area and address all signs of concern:
- Your dentist will feel around your neck and jawline and look around the tongue to check for unusual nodules and masses. They will also assess the normal movement of the tongue and salivary gland functions.
- The visual examination involves looking at all the areas of the mouth to identify any ulcers or colour change that could indicate cancerous activity.
Oral cancer screening is painless and non-invasive and will give you the peace of mind that you are healthy.
Depending on your lifestyle and risk factors, your oral cancer screening dentist may feel that you could benefit from regular screening intervals or review any findings that were highlighted in the screening.
It is also important to have regular check-ups and examinations even if you do not have teeth and wear full dentures, so our dentists can screen and reassure all is well.
However, keep in mind that an oral cancer screening is a precautionary measure, not a diagnostic, and that in most cases, no treatment is necessary.
Am I at risk of developing oral cancer?
Understanding the causes and risk factors of oral cancer is key in preventing and treating it before it requires invasive treatment:
- Oral cancer is most common in men (4th most common type of cancer), but in the past decade the incidence among women has increased as well.
- The risk of oral cancer is highest among seniors, with the most cases being detected over the age of 60.
- The biggest risk factor for oral cancer is tobacco use of any kind, cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco among others. According to a recent study, eight out of ten oral cancer patients were smokers.
- Heavy alcohol use is also a risk factor. If tobacco and alcohol use are combined, the risk of oral cancer is 15 times higher than non-drinkers and non-smokers
- Previous oral cancer diagnosis can increase the risk of future occurrences
- History of significant sun exposure and UV damage increase the risk of lip cancer which is the most common type of oral cancer.
- If ever you have an ulcer that does not get better after three weeks, please make an appointment to see a dentist to check it.