What Is Oral Cancer Screening?
Did you know that oral cancer is the sixth deadliest type of cancer with more than 30,000 cases diagnosed each year? If you’re 40 years of age or more, and a frequent alcohol and tobacco user, you should be screened for oral cancer. With early detection and treatment, oral cancer is curable.
Regular check-ups with your dental professional at LifeStyle Dentistry are important to check for signs of oral cancer. Oral cancer screening is an examination conducted by a dentist or doctor to detect signs and symptoms of cancer or pre-cancerous conditions in a patient’s mouth.
Why You Should Get an Oral Cancer Screening
The primary goal of dental oral cancer screening is the early detection of cancer or pre-cancerous lesions that may result in mouth cancer. In the earlier stage, cancer or lesions are easier to remove and increases the chances of successful treatment.
Like other forms of cancer, oral cancer treatment is easier if the disease is caught quickly. By doing regular oral cancer screening tests, the patient has a better chance of successfully detecting and treating oral cancer.
Factors That Can Increase the Risk of Oral Cancer
Below are the top risk factors for oral cancer:
- Gender – Men are more likely to get oral cancer due to higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use.
- Age – According to the American Cancer Society, most people diagnosed with oral cancer are 55 or older.
- Tobacco – About 80% of patients diagnosed with oral cancer are tobacco users. The development of cancer depends on the frequency and duration of tobacco use.
- Alcohol – 70% of people with oral cancer are heavy drinkers, and the risk is even higher if the patient is a heavy user of alcohol and tobacco.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection – HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that’s also a risk factor for oral cancer.
Signs You Need an Oral Screening
The following are the signs and symptoms of oral cancer:
- A red or white spot on the inside of your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Mouth pain
- Ear pain
- A sore that bleeds easily
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, and speaking
- A lump or growth on the inside of your mouth
If you have persistent symptoms that last for more than two weeks, schedule an oral cancer screening with your dentist.
What Takes Place During An Oral Cancer Screening
The oral cancer screening procedure starts with the clinical examination of the patient’s mouth and throat. The dental professional will use a mirror, light, and tongue depressor to look for signs of abnormality such as swelling, redness, bumps, sores, colored patches, and ulcerations. All sections of the mouth will be checked, including the mouth’s floor and roof, inner cheeks, gums, tongue, and tonsils.
If abnormalities are detected during the oral cancer screening process, the dentist or doctor may use a special light or dye to further evaluate the mouth for oral cancer.
Schedule an Appointment
If you have questions or need to schedule an oral cancer screening, call LifeStyle Dentistry and we’ll be more than happy to help. Book your oral cancer screening appointment today!