April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month – Symptoms to Watch For


Oral Cancer is also known as mouth cancer. It accounts for around 3% of cancer diagnoses in Australia and can affect any part of the oral cavity, including tongue, cheeks, lips, gums, and roof of the mouth. 

People of all ages are at risk of experiencing oral cancer, with some lifestyle factors increasing the risk. Early diagnosis will allow for the most favourable treatment outcomes. If you have noticed an abnormal lump or white patch in or around your mouth, it is important to visit your dentist at your earliest convenience. April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and in this blog post we will be sharing the common symptoms to watch out for, along with some risk factors and prevention tips. 


Symptoms of Oral Cancer

You might not always notice the early signs of oral cancer. Mouth cancers are generally first detected by your dentist, which is why regular dental check-ups are so important. 

In many cases, it is typical for oral cancer to present as a white patch (leukoplakia) or red patch (erythoplakia) within any part of the mouth. You should remain vigilant of any unusual lumps or red/white patches in the mouth and should seek a professional opinion if these changes do not heal within 2 weeks.


Some symptoms to watch for include:

  • Abnormal lumps which can appear anywhere inside the mouth
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Ulcers or sores which fail to heal
  • Red/white patches on your mouth
  • Numbness 


What are the risk factors for oral cancer?

  • Male
  • Over 45 years of age
  • Regular use of tobacco or alcohol use – Smoking or chewing tobacco is a major risk factor for oral cancer. People who smoke have a risk of contracting oral cancer that is double that of non-smokers. Heavy drinking is also a known risk factor. 
  • UV radiation – People who spend a lot of time outdoors with exposure to UV rays are also at an increased risk, particularly for lip cancer. 
  • Previous history of oral cancer
  • Suppressed immune system


Prevention Tips

The good news is you can reduce your risk of mouth cancer by making lifestyle changes, such as reducing sun exposure, eating a well-balanced diet, reducing consumption of alcohol, and ceasing tobacco use.

You should also ensure that you visit your dentist every 6 months for a monthly check-up.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the five-year survival rate for oral cancer between 2011-2015 was 75%. Early detection is key to better treatment and survival outcomes. If you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact iSmile Dentistry as our experienced dentists can perform a thorough oral cancer screening. If a suspicious lesion is found during the screening, management options will be discussed with you. 


Book an Oral Cancer Screening at iSmile Dentistry Today

If it has been a while since your last check-up, or if you are concerned about an unusual growth within your oral cavity, please book an appointment at iSmile Dentistry today. Early detection of cancer is key to successful treatment outcomes. Call today on 02 9030 4310, we look forward to seeing you at our St Leonards dental clinic soon.