016 – Oral Cancer

What is Oral Cancer?


It can be defined as an abnormal growth in the oral cavity. Usually it presents at the cheek, tongue, floor of mouth and lip.

According to National Cancer Registry (NCR), in Malaysia, oral cancer is:
– 21st most common cancer
– 17th most common cancer in males
– 16th in females
– Predominant among Indian ethnic group
– Highest in Indian females

Throughout the world, oral cancer is the 6th most common cancers and annually there were 350,000 new cases reported worldwide.

It is one of the cancers to be detected early as the lesion site is prominent and visible. When noticed early, oral cancer is almost always cured; however, there is still many cases presented at late stage. As reported by NCR in 2007, only 35.4% of oral cancer was diagnosed at stage 1 and 2, the remaining cases were detected at stage 3 and 4.

The survival rate is lower if oral cancer is detected late!


A few risk factors are noted to have caused oral cancer, including:

– Betel quid (sireh) chewing
– Tobacco (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, pipies, bidis etc)
– Chronic alcoholic
– UV light
– Familial history of cancer

Thus, the public or population of high-risk should be aware of oral condition and have annual dental check up to detect early lesion if any. If there is persistent red/ white patch, non-healing ulcer or swelling on the oral soft tissue, it is advisable to visit dental clinic as soon as possible.

A healthy lifestyle, self awareness and annual dental check up would make a difference in our quality of life. Please visit us for dental check up today!

Article by Dr Lew Huai Lin