Of the many services we perform on a regular basis, there are few that are more important than your oral cancer screenings. During your routine dental visit, we examine your mouth for overall wellness, which includes an oral cancer screening. These consults check for cancer in any of the parts that make up the mouth, including:
- roof and floor of the mouth,
- tongue, and
- the lining of the cheek.
Besides a visual examination of your mouth, we will also feel the tissue of your mouth and throat to detect any abnormalities.
Like other cancers, oral can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. You are the most important factor in the early diagnosis of oral cancer, through routine screenings recommended by our office. For those who pursue regular screenings, this can dramatically increase the chances that the disease can be detected early and treated effectively, which in turn will dramatically increase a patient’s chance of recovery.
We have the training to identify the early signs and symptoms of oral cancer and pre-cancerous conditions. While these symptoms may be caused by other, less serious problems, it is very important to visit our office to rule out the possibility of oral cancer. The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- A sore that doesn’t heal
- Red or white spots anywhere in the oral cavity
- Sore throat
- A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal
- A lump, thickening, or rough spot
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the jaw or tongue
We recommend you make an appointment if you have any persistent signs and symptoms that bother you and last more than two weeks.
Oral cancer screenings have become a fixture of regular dental consultations. These screenings are a vital step in promoting long-term dental health and preventing major health problems. If we find an area of concern, we may perform a simple test, such as a brush test, which collects cells from a suspicious lesion in the mouth to be sent to a laboratory for analysis or we may recommend a biopsy.
Factors that can increase your risk of mouth cancer include:
- Tobacco use of any kind,
- including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff, among others
- Heavy alcohol use
- Excessive sun exposure to your lips
- A sexually transmitted virus called human papillomavirus (HPV)