Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a disease resulting from abnormal cell growth in the mouth or throat or on the lips or tongue.

Oral cancer is more common in people over 45 who smoke, chew tobacco, or abuse alcohol. Early signs of oral cancer are often difficult to detect without an examination by a dentist. We recommend biannual oral cancer examinations by your dentist even if you do not have any natural teeth, or if you have never smoked. Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial in significantly increasing long-term survival.

Be mindful of any change in voice, sores, or discoloured areas of your mouth. If these conditions do not heal within 14 days, be sure to have your dentist examine these areas.

Signs and symptoms

Watch for any of the following signs and symptoms of oral cancer:

  • White or dark red patches in your mouth or on your lips or tongue
  • Lumps or changes in the texture or colour of the mouth tissues
  • Bleeding or numbness in the mouth
  • Sores or patches that do not heal
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in taste or tongue sensation

Preventing oral cancer

To help prevent oral cancer, be sure to:

  • See your dentist regularly for dental exams and ask about oral cancer screenings.
  • Stop using tobacco products – ask your dentist about tools to help you quit.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Limit sun exposure and use U/V protective lip balms.
  • Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Check your mouth regularly for signs or symptoms and report any changes to your dentist right away.

Learn how to prevent HPV oropharyngeal cancer.