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Oral Cancer

oral cancer Kenmore dentist
Published By Dr. Rachel Hall at 7 December, 2016

What Is Mouth Cancer?

Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth, which most commonly involves the lips or the tongue. It may also occur on the:

  • Cheek lining
  • The floor of the mouth
  • Gums (gingiva)
  • The roof of the mouth (palate)

Most mouth cancers are a type called squamous cell carcinomas. These tend to spread quickly.

Risks For Oral Cancer

Smoking and other tobacco use are linked to most cases of mouth or throat cancer. Heavy alcohol use also increases your risk of oral cancer.

Other factors that may increase the risk for oral cancer include:

  • Chronic irritation (such as from rough teeth, dentures, or fillings)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Taking medications that weaken the immune system (immunosuppressants)
  • Poor dental and oral hygiene

Some mouth cancers begin as a white plaque (leukoplakia) or as a mouth ulcer.

Men get oral cancer twice as often as women do, particularly men older than 40.


Symptoms of Mouth Cancer

Sore, lump, or ulcer in the mouth:

  • Maybe a deep, hard-edged crack in the tissue
  • Most often pale coloured, but may be dark or discoloured
  • On the tongue, lip, or another area of the mouth
  • Usually painless at first (may develop a burning sensation or pain when a tumour is advanced)
  • Bleeding

Other symptoms that may occur with oral cancer include:

  • Chewing problems
  • Mouth sores
  • Pain with swallowing
  • Speech difficulties
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Tongue problems
  • Weight loss

Signs and tests for Mouth Cancer

Your doctor and/or dentist will examine your mouth area. The exam may show:

  • A sore on the lip, tongue, or another area of the mouth
  • An ulcer or bleeding
  • Tests used to confirm oral cancer include:
  • Gum biopsy
  • Tongue biopsy
  • X-rays and CT scans may be done to determine if cancer has spread.


Surgery to remove a tumour is usually recommended if a tumour is small enough. Surgery may be used together with radiation therapy and chemotherapy for larger tumours. Surgery is not commonly done if cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the neck.

Other treatments may include speech therapy or other therapy to improve movement, chewing, swallowing, and speech.


Support Groups

You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group of people who share common experiences and problems.


Expectations (prognosis)

Approximately half of the people with oral cancer will live more than 5 years after they are diagnosed and treated.

If the cancer is found early, before it has spread to other tissues, the cure rate is nearly 90%.

However, more than half of mouth cancers have already spread when the cancer is detected. Most have spread to the throat or neck.

About 1 in 4 persons with mouth or throat cancer die because of delayed diagnosis and treatment.



  • Complications of radiation therapy, including dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
  • Disfigurement of the face, head, and neck after surgery
  • Other spread (metastasis) of the cancer

Calling your health care provider

Oral cancer may be discovered when the dentist performs a routine cleaning and examination.

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have a sore in your mouth or lip or a lump in the neck that does not go away within 1 month. Early diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer greatly increase the chances of survival.



  • Avoid smoking or other tobacco use
  • Have dental problems corrected
  • Limit or avoid alcohol use
  • Practice good oral hygiene

Dental Check Ups And Oral Cancer Screening – Kenmore Dentist

Every dental check up at Evolve Dental Kenmore dentist involves a through mouth cancer screening using the latest technology in oral cancer screening.

Book now for your dental check 07 3720 1811

  • Dr. Rachel Hall

    Dr. Rachel Hall

    Rachel is the founder and principal dentist at Evolve Dental Healing with over 30 years experience, practising holistically since 2001. Not your typical dentist, Rachel is a passionate opinion leader, challenging convention to empower people to make better dental and health choices, helping thousands to have healthy natural smiles. A respected writer and presenter on holistic dentistry, health and wellness it is Rachel’s mission to revolutionise the way people look at their dental health.

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