The Ontario Dental Association encourages all Ontarians to book an exam
TORONTO, April 5 /CNW/ - According to the Canadian Cancer Society, there
were 1,150 estimated oral cancer deaths in Canada in 2010. This year,
an estimated 3,400 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed. Early
detection is the best way to increase survival chances with this
serious and often aggressive disease. Your dentist plays an important
role in the early detection and diagnosis of oral cancer through a
regular dental exam.
"As oral health experts, dentists are in a unique position to help in
the early diagnosis of many medical conditions, including oral cancer,"
says Dr. Lynn Tomkins, President of Ontario Dental Association. "Most
people see their dentist regularly, so your dentist is often the first
health-care professional to have an opportunity to detect the early
signs of oral cancer."
It is critical that oral cancer be diagnosed in its earliest possible
stages to increase a patient's chances of a full recovery. But signs of
oral cancer can be easy to miss unless you know what you are looking
Just ask Lawrence Preston Tomkins, Dr. Tomkins' father. During a routine
dental examination, Dr. Tomkins noticed a small swollen area on the lip
and referred the 85-year-old veteran to an oral surgeon. A biopsy
revealed dysplasia, a precursor to oral cancer.
"I see my father often and never noticed the swelling until I had him in
the right environment - the dental chair," said Dr. Tomkins. "The early
signs of oral cancer are very easy to miss and it concerns me when
people aren't seeing their dentist regularly."
Normally, the cells of the mouth are quite resistant to damage. However,
the Ontario Dental Association wants people to be aware that repeated
injury from smoking, alcohol or even friction may cause sores or
painful areas where cancer can start. If left untreated, oral cancer
has the potential to spread to the lymph nodes and lungs.
In her dental chair Dr. Tomkins has also noticed swellings and lesions
on the head and neck areas of several patients, which have led to early
diagnoses of other cancers, including those affecting the thyroid and
"Avoiding high-risk activities such as smoking and sun exposure will not
only help prevent oral cancer, but other cancers as well," says Loraine
Marrett, PhD, Director, Surveillance at Cancer Care Ontario.
"Prevention is best," agrees Dr. Tomkins, "but for those who contract
oral cancer, early diagnosis and immediate treatment can save their
Be sure to schedule a regular dental exam as part of a healthy oral
health routine. If you notice a mouth sore or anything out of the
ordinary that does not go away or heal after a couple of weeks, consult
your dentist immediately.
To view the Backgrounder on oral cancer, visit the Media Room at www.youroralhealth.ca.
SOURCE Ontario Dental Association
For further information:
Manager, Public Affairs and Communications
416-922-3900, ext. 3314