Oral Cancer Screening – Why It’s Essential To Your Health

April 20, 2022
Oral Cancer Screening In Hamilton

Did you know that someone dies as a result of oral cancer every hour of every day, somewhere in North America?

Equally disturbing; on a global scale, new cases of oral cancer are estimated at more than 475,000 each year. Oral cancer death rates are said to be higher than those for Hodgkin’s disease, cervical cancer, or cancers of the brain, liver, kidneys or skin!

Early detection is vital to surviving oral cancer! However, as a result of most oral cancers being detected and diagnosed too late, the overall 5-year survival rate is just 53%, but when discovered early (often during a thorough dental examination), the survival rate increases to more than 80%.

Some of the warning signs of oral cancer include a mouth sore that bleeds easily or fails to heal properly; a lump, thickening or soreness in the mouth, throat or tongue. Soreness or swelling that doesn’t go away, hoarseness when speaking, or difficulty in chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue and jaw. 

Fortunately, most oral “sores” or “lesions” are not harmful. But a small number are dangerous, and if not identified early, they can progress to a more advanced stage.

Because oral cancer is one of the most curable diseases when caught early, we offer patients oral cancer screening (a non-invasive exam) to detect any abnormal tissues that might lead to cancer or oral cancer during their regular, complete dental examinations. Such regular dental examinations can help us identify potential oral cancer lesions at the earliest stages of development, and if early-stage oral cancer is found, treatment is simpler, less invasive and usually very effective.

Late detection and diagnosis remain the primary reason that both the incidence of and the death rates from oral cancer continue to increase. When diagnosed only in its later stages, oral cancer is a devastating disease. Late-stage treatment usually involves major facial surgery with only about half of such patients surviving the past five years. As with many forms of cancer, age is a primary risk factor for oral cancer, followed by smoking and alcohol consumption, so if you’re over 40 years of age, a smoker, or consume alcoholic beverages, you are considered to be at higher risk. That being said, it is important to note that more than 25% of oral cancer victims have no such risk factors.

The bottom line? Getting an oral cancer examination could save your life because many oral lesions are flat, very small, or in an area of the mouth that you may not easily see. So, sticking your tongue out at your dentist may help increase your chances for a long and healthy life.

Yours for better dental health,

Dr. Russell Grover


If you have any of these conditions or notice any of these symptoms, you should see one of our dentists without delay. If you don’t know the state of your periodontal health, you should ask our dentists for an evaluation. There are often no symptoms of gum disease in its early stages, so people need to make sure their dentist checks their gums regularly.

Many Canadians have oral examinations each year to check for cavities and tooth decay. Emerging research shows it’s equally important to have a periodontal screening and evaluation which can help protect a person’s overall health.

Yours for better dental health,

Dr. Russell Grover