Oral Cancer Screening

Oral Cancer Screening

At Magpies Dental your health is our number one priority, and as part of our comprehensive examinations we perform oral cancer screening. Throughout your ongoing care, any soft tissue changes are reviewed on a regular basis. Oral cancer examinations are necessary, routine and potentially lifesaving.

Did you know?

  • Early detection of Oral Cancer gives you a 90% chance of survival.
  • The early stages of Oral Cancer can look similar to a mouth ulcer.
  • Over 25% of Oral Cancer sufferers are non-smokers.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease of the cells in the body. It occurs when abnormal cells grow in an uncontrollable way. These abnormal cells can invade or cause damage to the surrounding tissue, or spread to other parts of the body, causing more damage.

What is oral cancer?

Oral cancer is also called mouth cancer. It is a cancer that can develop in any part of the mouth, including the tongue, gums, cheeks, palate (roof of the mouth), under the tongue, lips, sinuses and pharynx (throat).

What causes oral cancer?

The exact reason why a cell becomes cancerous is still unknown. It is thought that something alters or damages certain genes in the cell, causing it to become abnormal and start multiplying.

Some people develop oral cancer for no apparent reason – it can affect anyone and there is no set list as to what will or won’t cause it. There are, however, certain risk factors that increase the chance of oral cancer developing. These include:

Smoking. There is a much higher incidence of oral cancer in smokers than in non-smokers.

  • Excessive or frequent consumption of alcohol.
  • Chewing tobacco.
  • The Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted infection.
  • Extended sun exposure to the area around your mouth, including your lips, without the use of a broad spectrum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) sunscreen.

What are the symptoms of oral cancer?

The most common symptoms of oral cancer are an ulcer or sore in the mouth that does not heal, and pain in the mouth that does not go away.

In many cases, changes in the mouth are seen before the cancer develops. This means that early treatment of these changes can help prevent a cancer developing.

Symptoms can include:

  • A sore or ulcer that does not heal and/or bleeds easily.
  • A blood blister that does not heal
  • White or red patches anywhere in the mouth (leukoplakia and erythroplakia).
  • A thick or hard lump on the lip, tongue or in the mouth or throat, what may or may not be painful.
  • Unusual bleeding or numbness anywhere in the mouth.
  • Pain when chewing or swallowing.
  • A feeling that something is caught in the throat.

All of these symptoms can be due to other conditions so if you are displaying any it does not necessarily mean you have oral cancer. If you are concerned please contact us, so that proper tests can be performed to confirm a diagnosis.

Remember, early diagnosis leads to early treatment which can prevent a cancer developing; so be proactive.

Other dental conditions with similar symptoms

Other dental conditions can have similar symptoms, particularly if there is chafing in the mouth, such as that caused by dentures, metal braces or a mouth guard. Infections can also cause swelling and bleeding in the mouth unrelated to cancer. Having your symptoms checked through an oral cancer screening will enable you to receive early intervention, whether it is for another dental condition or cancer.

Causes of oral cancer

Risk factors are considered when evaluating causes of oral cancer. People at a higher risk of developing oral cancer may:
Have a genetic predisposition to abnormal cancerous cell growth.
Have high exposure to the sun or UV due to artificial tanning, which has damaged lip and skin tissue.
Smoke or chew tobacco that damages oral cell tissue.
Excessively drink alcohol, which damages oral cell tissue and the liver.
Follow an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, which weakens their immunity and healthy cell growth.
Prognosis, treatment and prevention of oral cancer

In the UK about 4,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer and around 50 percent die as a result. Oral cancer is usually treated with radiation or chemotherapy, and abnormal cancerous growths can spread through the body if not caught early. Having regular dental check-ups allows dentists to monitor oral health for the presence of cancerous growth, to ensure patients can receive the treatment they need – people can have oral cancer and not know it. Other preventative measures include:
Being screened during a physical examination and having a biopsy taken to detect cancer.
Avoiding excessive exposure to the sun, sunburn and the use of artificial tanning devices.
Refraining from smoking or chewing tobacco.
Moderating alcohol consumption.
Eating a nutritious diet with regular exercise.
Following a healthy lifestyle.

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