How to Catch Oral Cancer
A dental or medical professional performs an oral cancer screening to determine if you have cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. Oral cancer screenings aim to detect mouth cancer earlier, when treatment may be more successful.
Routine dental visits at Dakota Ridge Dental in Littleton usually include a screening for oral cancer by our dentist. Our dentist may perform other tests to help identify any abnormal cells in your mouth.
A single oral examination or oral cancer screening test cannot reduce the risk of death due to oral cancer. Our dentist may still recommend an oral exam or a particular test if your risk factors indicate it is necessary.
Risk Factors For Oral Cancer
Risk factors for oral cancer include:
- The consumption of any form of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, etc.
- Drinking excessively
- Previous diagnosis of oral cancer
- Excessive sun exposure increases the risk of lip cancer
The human papillomavirus (HPV) can also pose an oral cancer risk, along with an inadequate diet of fruits and vegetables.
Benefits of Routine Screenings
By detecting oral cancers early, you may receive better treatment and prevent yourself or a loved one from becoming a statistic. For 2021, the American Cancer Society estimates the following for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the U.S.:
- Around 54,010 new cases of the oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer were reported
- About 10,850 deaths were caused by oral cancer
The Procedure for Oral Cancer Screenings
Preparation for oral cancer screening is not necessary. During routine dental visits, oral cancer screening usually takes place.
Looking at your lips and inside your mouth allows our dentist to examine your oral tissues quickly. The dentist will examine your gums. The inside of your cheeks, as well as the sides and bottom of your tongue, will be checked. In addition, we will examine the floor and roof of your mouth.
Oral cancer symptoms: What are they?
When these signs and symptoms do not subside after two weeks, you should see our dentist:
- A persistent soreness or irritation
- White or red patches
- Numbness or pain in the lips or mouth
- The thickening, crusting, or eroded area of a lump
- An inability to chew, swallow, speak or move your tongue or jaw
- Changes in your bite when you close your mouth
- Changes in voice or hoarseness
- Persistent sore throat
Are Oral Screenings Enough To Detect A Problem?
Oral cancer screening could lead to additional tests. Sores in the mouth are common, and the majority of these sores are not cancerous. An oral exam in Littleton cannot distinguish between cancerous and non-cancerous sores. Biopsies are the only way to determine whether you have oral cancer. During the biopsy, abnormal cells are removed and tested for cancer.
It’s crucial to understand that not all mouth cancers can be detected through oral cancer screening. Small cancer or precancerous lesions could go undetected if there is no obvious indication of abnormal cells in your mouth. You may be tested further to determine the cause of a sore.
Ready for Your Oral Cancer Screening?
Contact Dakota Ridge Dental today to learn more about Oral Cancer Screenings and find out how crucial a screening can be to detecting cancer before it is too late.