ADA tackles myths about oral cancer

Be aware of mouth cancer symptoms.

Be aware of mouth cancer symptoms.

In recognition of World Cancer Day 2014, the Australian Dental Association reminds Australians to reduce their risk for mouth and throat cancer by ceasing smoking; reducing alcohol intake; using protection during oral sex and visiting a dentist regularly.

“The incidence of oral cancers are increasing worldwide”, says Dr Karin Alexander, ADA Federal President. “In Australia around three people per day are diagnosed with oral cancer. Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol are well known to be significant factors that can cause mouth cancer and the risk increases if someone both smokes and drinks. What is more concerning is the increased incidence of oral cancer in young adults due to the contraction of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) during oral sex”.

“Dentists are specially trained to do a comprehensive examination of the neck and mouth to detect abnormalities. Reducing risk factors and having regularly check-ups will improve the chance that a cancer will be picked up early and adverse consequences avoided or reduced.

“Your regular dentist will keep accurate and contemporaneous records of what they observe during a clinical examination so will quickly identify any changes in the mucosa of the mouth. Seeing that same dentist allows comparisons to be made between findings and so enables abnormalities to be quickly spotted and dealt with,” Dr Alexander added. “Most people have a regular medical GP that they use and it is no different with dentistry. Seeing the same dentist regularly means they get to know you and your mouth.”

The ADA recommends that a patient who notices any change to the inside of their cheeks or gums that lasts for more than three weeks should seek immediate advice from a dentist.

The ADA has developed a range of information about oral cancers which is available here.

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