The detection of Oral Cancer
The outcomes associated with oral cancer can be significantly improved through routine screening and early detection. During your general dental check-up, Dr Crookes, Dr Jenkins or Dr Clark will thoroughly check your mouth for abnormalities.
The death rate associated with oral cancer remains high because it is often discovered late in its development, generally when it has spread to another location like the lymph nodes in the neck. At this stage the prognosis is significantly worse. So even if you think your teeth are healthy, it’s still important to visit the dentist regularly to check for signs of oral cancer.
Signs and Symptoms
You can look for signs of oral cancer yourself between visits by checking your lips and mouth for irregularities.
- Signs and symptoms to be aware of include:
- Red or white patches in your mouth
- An ulcer, sore or blister that does not heal
- A thick or hard spot or lump
- A roughened or crusted area or spot
- Numbness, pain or tenderness
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together
- Difficulty swallowing or moving your jaw / tongue
- Swollen lymph glands
Causes of oral cancer
Tobacco and alcohol use
Prolonged tobacco use is the most prevalent cause of oral cancer, closely followed by heavy alcohol use. When both tobacco and alcohol are used together, there is a 15 times greater risk of developing oral cancer.
Extended sun exposure to your lips without a broad-spectrum SPF can increase your risk of skin cancer. The instance of this type of cancer has been slowly declining through increased awareness.
Sexually transmitted virus
New research has identified the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV-16) as a growing cause of oral cancer. HPV is the same virus responsible for cervical cancer and can be sexually transmitted between partners. This link explains the increasing incidence (25%) of young, non-smoking oral cancer patients.
Oral Cancer Awareness for Patients in Paddington Brisbane at Crookes & Jenkins Dental
If you want more information about oral cancer awareness or want to book in for an oral cancer screening check, contact us at Crookes and Jenkins today.
Cancer Screening FAQs
Yes, we do offer screenings for oral cancer. In fact, your dentist will thoroughly check your mouth for any abnormalities every time you come in for a general dental check-up. Routine screenings and early detection are key when it comes to getting the treatment you need, so even if you think that your teeth and mouth are healthy, it’s still important to visit us regularly so that your dentist can check for any early signs of oral cancer. You can also look for signs of oral cancer yourself between dental visits by regularly checking your lips and mouth for any irregularities.
Some of the signs of oral cancer may include red or white patches in your mouth, as well as thick or hard spots and lumps and an ulcer, sore or blister that won’t heal. A roughened or crusted area or spot could also indicate that there is an issue. Other potential symptoms of oral cancer include numbness, pain or tenderness in the mouth; changes in the way that your teeth fit together; difficulty swallowing or moving your jaw and/or tongue; and swollen lymph glands. If you experience any of these symptoms, please come in and see us for a consultation.
The most prevalent cause of oral cancer is prolonged tobacco use, followed by heavy alcohol use. When tobacco and alcohol are used together, the risk of oral cancer increases quite considerably. Other causes of the disease include extended sun exposure to the lips without the use of a broad spectrum SPF; and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV-16). This virus can be sexually transmitted between partners, and is a growing cause of oral cancer.
Oral cancer can be caused by various factors, and certain risk factors increase the likelihood of
developing this condition. Here are some common causes and risk factors associated with oral
1. Tobacco use (smoking, chewing)
2. Excessive alcohol consumption
3. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
4. Poor oral hygiene
5. Betel quid and gutka use
6. Sun exposure (lip cancer)
7. Age and gender (more common in men over 45)
8. Family history of cancer
9. Weakened immune system
It’s important to note that while these factors may increase the risk of oral cancer, not everyone
who has these risk factors will develop the disease. Conversely, some individuals without any of
these risk factors may still develop oral cancer. Regular dental check-ups and self-examinations
can aid in early detection and improve treatment outcomes.
Oral cancer can manifest in different forms and locations within the oral cavity. The main types
of oral cancer include:
● Squamous cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of oral cancer, accounting for the
majority of cases. It originates in the thin, flat cells (squamous cells) lining the lips, tongue,
gums, and the inside of the cheeks.
● Verrucous carcinoma: This is a subtype of squamous cell carcinoma that tends to grow slowly
and has a warty appearance. It is less likely to spread to nearby tissues or metastasize to
● Minor salivary gland carcinomas: Salivary glands are present throughout the oral cavity and
can give rise to different types of cancer. These tumours may develop in the palate, tonsils,
base of the tongue, or other areas where minor salivary glands are located.
● Lymphomas: Lymphomas are cancers that affect the lymphatic system. In some cases, they
can develop in the oral cavity, primarily in the tonsils or other lymphoid tissues.
● Oral melanoma: Melanoma is a type of cancer that originates in the pigment-producing cells
(melanocytes). Oral melanomas can occur in the tissues of the mouth, including the gums,
palate, and tongue.
It’s worth noting that oral cancers can also spread from other parts of the body to the oral cavity,
known as metastatic tumours. Early detection and timely treatment are crucial for improving
outcomes in oral cancer cases. Regular dental check-ups and self-examinations can help detect
any unusual changes in the oral tissues.
Oral cancer is typically diagnosed through a combination of physical examinations, medical
history reviews, biopsies, and imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans.
Endoscopy may also be used to visualise the throat and surrounding areas. Early detection is
vital for effective treatment.
Once a diagnosis is confirmed, the healthcare team will determine the stage of the cancer,
which helps guide the appropriate treatment plan. Early detection plays a crucial role in
improving outcomes for oral cancer, so regular dental check-ups and oral cancer screenings are
important, especially for individuals with risk factors or suspicious symptoms. If you suspect you
may have oral cancer, it is essential to seek prompt medical attention from a healthcare