Oral Cancer ScreeningRegular care of your mouth is necessary for maintaining optimal oral health. Just as important as daily brushing and flossing are, your bi-annual visits for cleanings and exams are also important.
Cleanings are designed to eliminate all buildup from the surfaces of your teeth, including from the areas that you might otherwise have a difficult time removing.
Exams allow us to spot a wide variety of different issues in their earliest stages, which then enables us to provide you with the necessary treatment to prevent those issues from getting worse.
Along with checking your teeth and gums for signs of damage, decay, and infection, we at Pacific Ave. Dental, also perform an oral cancer screening.
Dentists will tell you that you should have oral cancer screenings routinely due to the dangers associated with it.
An oral cancer screening is a physical examination undertaken by a dentist during a preventative visit to check whether there exists cancer symptoms and signs such as precancerous lesions in the patient's mouth.
Mouth cancer screening is aimed at diagnosing oral cancer early to start early treatment and boost the odds of survival.
Oral cancer forms in oral cavity tissues such as the gums, lips, two-thirds of the front part of the tongue, inside the cheeks, the front region of the roof of the mouth, or under the tongue. A trip to Pacific Ave. Dental allows our dentist to perform an oral cancer screening to ensure you are well-informed about your status.
Oral cancer, or cancer of the mouth, can affect various parts of your mouth, including your lips, tongue, palate, cheeks, gums, or entrance to the throat. Every year, over 40,000 Americans are diagnosed.
Early diagnosis, and subsequent treatment, of this disease, is essential. If not treated in the early stages, oral cancer can be fatal. Detecting cancer early, and providing treatment, helps to greatly increase your chance of curing the disease and making a full recovery.
Who Is at Risk for Oral Cancer?
There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. Some of these risks can be controlled, while others cannot. Risk factors include:
|•||If you are, or have been, a smoker. Those who use tobacco products have a significantly higher risk of developing oral cancer. Approximately 90% of oral cancer patients have been smokers.
|•||If you are, or have been, a heavy drinker. Approximately 70% to 80% of oral cancer patients have been heavy drinkers.
|•||Certain strains of HPV. Of the many strains of HPV, only a handful have been linked to cancers. Just a few of these have been linked to oral cancer.
|•||Family history. Having family members who have had, or do have, oral cancer increases your risk.
|•||Your age. Older adults are at a greater risk than younger adults.|
Are There Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
During your oral exams, we scan your mouth checking for signs of oral cancer. This oral cancer screening involves checking the soft tissues of your mouth for abnormalities as well as assessing your face and neck for swelling. Knowing the symptoms of oral cancer can help you to take action right away should you notice anything amiss. Symptoms of oral cancer include:
|•||Red or white patches in the soft tissues of your mouth.
|•||Sores that refuse to heal, particularly those that have been present for longer than two weeks.
|•||You notice difficulty with chewing, speaking or swallowing.
|•||A change in your bite, or, if you wear them, a change in the way your dentures fit.
|•||Your jaw or chin is numb.|
How Is Oral Cancer Diagnosed?
Your oral cancer screening is only the beginning of the diagnosis of oral cancer. If we do notice anything unusual during your regular oral exam, we will then need to take a closer look.
Along with visually inspecting the abnormality we find, we will also take digital X-rays. This will enable us to see the condition of your mouth in the hidden areas of your mouth. We will also take a soft tissue biopsy of the growth or lesion.
A biopsy, which involves inspecting the tissue sample under a microscope to check for cancerous cells, is an essential diagnostic tool that will help us to either rule out or determine the presence of cancer.
If cancer is detected, we can then help you to get the appropriate treatment to eliminate it and restore the health of your mouth and your whole body.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Like most cancers, there is no definite cause of oral cancer. Even so, there are risk factors that increase the likelihood of getting the disease. These include tobacco in any form like cigars, cigarettes, pipes, and even chewing.
It may also arise from excessive alcohol intake, overexposure to the sun, which can cause lip cancer, and previous cancer diagnosis. Another risk factor is infection with human papillomavirus (HPV).
How Common is Oral Cancer?
Mouth cancer is common in people above the age of 40 and is more prevalent in men than in women. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research notes that there are about 53,000 cases of oral cancer per year in the United States.
How Do You Get Oral Cancer?
Mouth cancer occurs when the cells are influenced by different factors or things, and they mutate to start invading the healthy mouth cells. Different factors can lead to getting oral cancer.
Tobacco use is the most common factor since tobacco contains chemicals such as arsenic and cadmium, which cause degeneration and mutation of the tissues they come in contact with.
Excessive intake of alcohol can also cause oral cancer. An unhealthy diet such as foods low in vitamins such as vitamin E and minerals such as iron can make you susceptible to oral cancer.
To offset this risk, consume fruits, vegetables, fish, and cereals. Other causes include genetic factors and viral infections such as the human papillomavirus.
How Do You Test For Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer tests include barium swallow that detects early tumors in the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and adjacent areas. A biopsy is a test that analyzes tissues suspected of being cancerous.
Other tests include endoscopy, a complete dental exam, and imaging tests such as CT, PET, and MRI scans. Panendoscopy, x-rays, indirect pharyngoscopy, and laryngoscopy are other ways of screening and testing for mouth cancer.
People with cancer may have pain in their ears, numbness in their tongue, thick red or white patches or lumps in their mouth, and constant sore throat even after medication.
They may also have difficulty in normal mouth functions such as chewing, speaking, swallowing, or moving the jaw.
Do You Take a Test For or During an Oral Cancer Screening?
Screening for oral cancer can necessitate more tests. This is because an oral cancer screening is insufficient to establish whether the sores, lumps, or patches are cancerous. Moreover, some lesions cannot be detected solely by an oral cancer screening.
Schedule Your Oral Cancer Screening Today! (For Whenever You Need It)
With regular oral cancer screenings, we can help you to detect the issue before it has a chance to spread. However, symptoms of oral cancer do not conveniently wait to appear for your regular exams.
They can show up at any time. Do not wait until your next appointment to address symptoms. For more information, and to schedule your appointment, call Pacific Ave. Dental today at (360) 373-3515.