ADA warns on oral cancer

oral cancer rates on the increase
The ADA has warned that oral cancer rates are on the increase.

The Australian Dental Association Inc. (ADA) is fighting to increase awareness of oral cancer, the risk factors that contribute to it and lifestyle changes that can help reduce a person’s risk of getting oral cancer.

“Every day, at least three Australians are being diagnosed with oral cancer. Survival rates for oral cancer remain low despite advances in treatment and this can be attributed to late detection. Recognising the risk factors and signs of oral cancer is vital to better prognosis and outcomes,” says Chairman of the ADA’s Oral Health Committee, Dr Peter Alldritt.

“Early detection of oral cancer can save lives, so it’s important to know what you should be looking out for in your mouth. Ulcers or lumps in the mouth which do not heal within two weeks should be treated with suspicion. Smoking, alcohol, poor diet, sun exposure and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) all contribute to a person’s risk of presenting with oral cancer,” says Dr Alldritt.

The ADA has created fact sheets and a website to provide information on what to look for in your mouth, as well as the risk factors that can contribute to oral cancer. The ADA is also encouraging people to have a conversation with their dentist, family and friends about the health of their mouth and their teeth.

“What is more concerning is the incidence of oral cancers in non-smokers”, Dr Alldritt added. Checking for signs of oral cancer is a part of the regular check-up procedure carried out by your dentist, so it’s vital to visit your dentist regularly.”

Risk factors for oral cancer include:

  • Smoking – more than 80 per cent of oral cancers in Australia occur in people who smoke
  • Alcohol – heavy drinking, defined as more than four standard drinks on a single occasion, 
increases your risk of mouth cancers
  • Extended exposure of lips to sun
  • Poor diet – consuming a diet low in or with no vegetables
  • Exposure to HPV.



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  1. If the oral cancer risks do not include the germinal layers exposed by the destructive effects of dental plaque then it may be acceptable to allow the lack of education that allows such ineffective oral hygiene. Gross failure to educate effective oral hygiene must be viewed as unacceptable.


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