Dentists Encouraged To Play Their Part On World Cancer Day ... And Beyond

World Cancer Day, which takes place on 4 February every year, is a global rallying cry for people everywhere to pledge, take action, and make a difference in the fight against cancer.

Harnessing the theme of 'We can. I can.', the day promotes the idea that everyone, together or individually, can help reduce the global burden of cancer.

To coincide with World Cancer Day, the Australian Dental Association is highlighting the role dentists play in the early detection and prevention of oral cancer.

They are in a prime position to screen their patients through thorough and routine oral examinations, particularly those with high-risk for early signs of oral cancer. Early detection and a timely referral are key factors in determining patient outcomes.

As well, dentists play an important role in educating and informing their patients about the links between lifestyle and cancer risk, a key first step in effective cancer prevention.

Oral cancer, which is caused by a variety of lifestyle risks such smoking and alcohol consumption, is among the 10 most common cancers, a potentially fatal disease that can affect anyone from young adults right through to the elderly.

Although it occurs in relatively small numbers, cases are on the rise, making it a disease that should be taken very seriously. It is an insidious, aggressive disease with a survival rate of only 50% over 5 years and it often goes undetected until it is at an advanced stage.

Oral cancer may affect any part of the mouth including: lips, gums, tongue, throat, inner lining of the cheeks, roof of the mouth, and floor of the mouth.

The major risk factors for oral cancer, which are part of the lifestyles of many Australians, include;

  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking and tobacco
  • Repeated exposure to HPV infections.
  • Unsafe exposure to UV via sunlight (outer lip only)

For more information go to World Cancer Day