Oral cancer month

In April, World Cancer Day is celebrated. Cancer is a disease that affects about 10,000,000 people per year, with head and neck cancer being the 5th most common and oral cancer being the 8th. Oral cancer is defined as the set of malignant tumors that affect any tissue in the oral cavity, with more frequent locations on the tongue, on the floor of the mouth and on the gums.

Early diagnosis in any cancer is essential since, when malignant lesions are detected at an early stage, the survival rate is considerably higher. With regard to Oral Cancer, given the ease of access and visualization, the diagnosis in the early stages of the disease is relatively easy, however, more than 50% of oral cavity cancers are diagnosed in the late stages of the disease, where the survival rate is quite inferior.

Early diagnosis is therefore fundamental and can be based on three fundamental pillars:

  1. Semiannual or annual appointments at the Dentist;

Dentists have regular contact with their patients and, therefore, are able to contribute in a privileged way to the early detection and prevention of these malignant lesions.

In a high proportion of cases, Oral Cancer is preceded by changes in the oral mucosa that are clinically visible and classified as potentially malignant lesions.

  • Oral inspection done by the person in the mirror, inspecting the back and

lingual edges, the inner part of the cheeks, the inner part of the lips; the gums and roof of the mouth;

  • Consult a Dentist / Doctor to be observed if you feel any signs or symptoms

What signs and symptoms should we be aware of or look for in oral inspection?

  • White or reddish patches on the oral mucosa
  • Ulcer (sore/cold ulcer) that does not heal within 2 weeks
  • Any lump or thickening of the mucosa
  • Persistent discomfort or pain
  • Volume increase that may cause poor adaptation of removable prostheses
  • Difficulty moving the tongue or jaw
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Submandibular or neck lump
  • Appearance of changes in the normal or functional anatomy of the mouth

Understanding the specific and general etiological factors for Oral Cancer is also fundamental in its prevention, thus:

As main etiological factors for oral cancer we have:

  • tobacco and alcohol: responsible for about 75% of cancers of the oral cavity, lip and oropharynx
  • diet: a diet rich in nitrosamines (such as smoked meats or sausages and fried foods) are important risk factors
  • sun exposure: mostly associated with lip cancer
  • infections: the human papilloma virus (HPV), for example, not only increases the risk of developing oral cancer but also contributes to its progression
  • the environmental pollutants
  • Stress
  • the genetic factors

As prevention factors for Oral Cancer we have:

  • Tobacco Cessation
  • Moderation of alcohol consumption
  • Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid frequent direct sun and use facial and lip sun protection
  • Physical exercise
  • Regular appointments and exams at the Dentist
  • Vaccinations (Human Papilloma Virus Vaccine, for example)
  • Early diagnosis of oral cancer and potentially malignant lesions

At Clínica Construímos Sorrisos we have a multidisciplinary team that offers a differentiated consultation for the screening and diagnosis of potentially malignant lesions and oral cancer. Prevention and early diagnosis are essential, book your appointment now!

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