Oral Cancer Screening

Oral Cancer is on the increase due to changes in lifestyle habits. Having a regular oral cancer screening is one of the reasons why it is so important to see your dentist every six months for a routine check-up. Being screened twice a year is the best way to ensure oral cancer is caught in its early stages when it is most treatable.


What kinds of symptoms does oral cancer cause?

Oral cancer can cause an array of symptoms, many of which can be easily missed or confused with other issues, like canker sores. The most common symptoms include:

  • Red, white, or blotchy patches in your mouth
  • Lumps or rough-textured spots on the soft tissues of the mouth
  • Numbness or bleeding in the mouth, face, or neck
  • Mouth sores that take more than two weeks to heal
  • A persistent sore throat or hoarseness
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Changes in your occlusion, the way your teeth meet when you close your mouth

What techniques are used to diagnose oral cancer?

Oral cancer screening is the primary method used to detect oral cancer. Screening begins with a careful visual examination of the soft tissues of your mouth, including the lips, gums, cheeks, and palate, to look for changes in colour or texture as well as other signs. If a suspicious area is identified, a small sample of cells (biopsy) may be taken for further examination under a microscope. Oral biopsies are typically performed using a special brush to remove the top layer

Oral biopsies are typically performed using a special brush to remove the top layer of cells. When a larger sample is needed, a local anaesthetic will be used to numb the area before the tissue is removed and sent to a lab. Your neck will also be gently palpated for signs of swelling.

Is there anything I can do to prevent oral cancer?

The most important things you can do aside from having regular screenings are to stop smoking, stop using smokeless tobacco (or chewing tobacco) and avoid consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.