Here is Why Oral Cancer Screening Is Important

Here is Why Oral Cancer Screening Is Important

Dec 24, 2021

Oral cancer is a serious, life-threatening, but treatable condition. Like any other cancer, oral cancer is caused by an overgrowth of cancerous cells in the mouth. While it’s very serious and sometimes deadly, oral cancer is treatable if identified in its initial stages.

Unfortunately, the early symptoms of oral cancer aren’t as straightforward, making it difficult or impossible for a patient to tell if they have this cancer.

Often, oral cancer begins like a simple sore or bump in the mouth. Since developing a pimple around the body is normal, most people will assume it’s nothing. You might even assume you bit your cheek or had an allergic reaction to something you drank or ate. Even if the sore doesn’t go away, many people may not see a doctor or dentist until the symptoms worsen.

Oral cancer can develop in or around the mouth, tongue, lips, sinuses, lip, neck, hard and soft palate, throat, floor and top of the mouth, and cheeks.

To avoid a late diagnosis, it’s imperative to visit your dentist regularly for oral cancer screening. Most dentists perform oral cancer screening as part of routine dental exams at little or no extra cost.

Who Needs Oral Cancer Screening?

The key goal of oral cancer screening is to identify and detect abnormal, cancerous, or precancerous lesions in the mouth in early stages when treatment is more manageable and effective. Generally, oral cancer screening is vital for everyone. Especially for people at a higher risk of developing oral cancer and those experiencing oral cancer-like symptoms. For those at higher risk, forgoing regular dental appointments could prove to be fatal.

Common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Swelling, bumps, spots, and lumps in or around the mouth
  • White or red patches in the mouth
  • Unexplained oral bleeding
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Sore on the face, neck, and other parts of the mouth that doesn’t heal
  • Unexplained numbness or difficulty swallowing or talking
  • Ear pain
  • Sore throat that worsens
  • A feeling of something in the throat that doesn’t go away

If you’re experiencing these signs and symptoms, typically, cancer has already developed and should be treated promptly before it’s too late. If you have these signs, contact your dentist right away.

Please note that sometimes these signs might be symptoms of an entirely different condition. However, it’s important to be sure by requesting an oral cancer screening.

Factors that increase one’s risk of developing oral cancer include:

  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • A previous oral cancer diagnosis
  • Prolonged sun exposure
  • Poor eating habits
  • Age – those over 40 years of age
  • Gender – men are more likely to get oral cancer than women
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)

What to Expect in Oral Cancer Screening

An oral cancer exam begins with a thorough examination of a patient’s mouth, neck, and throat. The dentist uses a mirror, light, and tongue depressor to look for abnormalities or cancerous lesions.

The dentist may also touch different parts to feel any usual masses, pain, or firm nodules. X-rays images may also be used for detailed studies.
If any abnormalities are identified, the dentist may perform additional tests such as:

  • VELscope oral cancer screening – Uses a handheld wireless device to enhance the visibility of abnormalities in the mouth.
  • Laser light – Distinguishes between normal and abnormal tissues in the mouth.
  • Toluidine blue dye – Show the presence of irregular tissues.
  • Biopsy – involves removing small amounts of suspected tissue for further analysis.

If oral cancer is detected, your dentist will help you with a treatment plan.

How often should Oral Cancer Screening Be Done?

The earlier oral cancer is detected, the higher the chances of accessible, affordable, and successful treatment. It’s therefore advisable to have regular oral cancer screenings.

Adults 20 – 40 years old are advised to have a screening at least once every three years. Anyone over 40 should have annual screenings. However, people with a previous cancer diagnosis and a high risk of oral cancer should have at least one oral screening annually.

Final Verdict

Early detection of oral cancer guarantees a high chance of successful treatment. If you’re looking to plan your routine oral cancer screening or need oral cancer screening treatment, contact Sharon Dental Group today to book your appointment.

Our dental office in Sharon, MA also welcome patients from the below given nearby areas:

  • Canton
  • Walpole
  • Mansfield
  • Stoughton
  • Easton
  • Foxborough
  • Norwood
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