According to the Canadian Cancer Society, in 2017, 4,700 Canadians were diagnosed with oral cavity cancer, and 1,250 people died from it. Approximately 70% were men versus 30% of women.
Oral cancer signs may not be noticeable by a person for some time as it develops over a period of time. Cells in the mouth can cause precancerous conditions. These cells are not cancerous yet but left untreated can become cancerous. This is why oral cancer screening done by a dentist is critically important. While there are a variety of types of oral cancer such as teratoma, adenocarcinoma and melanoma, the most common type is malignant squamous cell carcinoma. This type of oral cancer usually originates in the lip or mouth tissues.
There are many different areas that oral cancers can occur including the mouth, tongue, lips, salivary glands, gums, face, and throat.
To note, those that smoke, use chewing tobacco or drink alcohol excessively have a significantly higher likelihood of oral cancer and therefore should be screened more frequently. Dr. Konotopetz, as part of the oral cancer screening, investigates a number of signs for oral cancer including red patches or sores, lesions within the mouth, and lumps within the mouth. Using lasers and UV lighting equipment Dr. Konotopetz can look below the surface to investigate these irregularities.
A comprehensive oral cancer screening should be done once a year.