Everything you should know about an oral cancer screening
Like the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry. Detecting early signs of oral cancer will help to intervene and manage the disease before it progresses to something impossible to cure or manage.
Oral cancer screening involves a physical and visual exam of the oral cavity (the teeth, the tongue, the lips, beneath the tongue, hard palate (the bony roof of the mouth), the gums, and buccal mucosa (the inside lining of the cheeks and lips) and other connected tissues. It acts as reassurance that the patient is okay and cancer free, but if the patient has signs of oral cancer, he/she can start early treatment.
What is oral cancer? This is type of cancer that occurs in any part of the mouth (lips, tongue, gums, floor of the mouth, roof of the mouth and inner lining of the cheeks). Always watch out for pain in mouth or ear, persistent mouth sore, abnormal swallowing, chronic hoarseness, non-tender lump in neck, and peculiar sore throat. Such signs can be associated with oral cancer. Visit your dentist in case you experience them.
Why do you need oral cancer screening?
With a low survival rate of 60% in 5 years, the best thing you can do is to go for check up. Oral cancer screening should be part of your wellness to-do list, if you want to increase your chance of cancer survival. During your dental regular check-up, your dentist at URBN Dental will check for any signs and symptoms of oral cancer.
The fact that your dental health feels and look great does not mean you are free from oral cancer. No dental disease is so devastating like oral cancer. However, you can save your life by going for oral cancer screening. If you have the disease the dentist will provide some measures to increases your of recovery.
Oral cancer spreads quickly, thus, it is important to go for screening at least once per year to ensure your oral healthy is fine. The good thing is that the screening takes just a few minutes. The dentist will inspect your mouth and if he finds any signs of oral cancers, you should start treatment as soon as possible to increase chances of recovery. Every time you visit your dentist for checkups, oral cancer screening should be on the to-do list, whether your dentist think you have cancer or not.
Who is more susceptible to needing oral cancer screening?
When the genetic mutation instructs cells to grow uncontrollably, cancer occurs. When left untreated the cancer will spread from one part of the mouth to other mouthparts, and also spread to the other parts of the body starting from the head and neck. Cancer can attack anyone. It does not discriminate in terms of age, skin color, origin or wealth. It doesn’t matter who you are can cancer will still attack you.
Who is more susceptible to needing oral cancer screening? It is hard to answer such a question, as everybody needs to go for oral cancer screening whether you are sick or not. However, there are people who need it more. If other people in your family have been diagnosed with oral cancer, you should make sure to go for screening after every three month. It is recommendable to go for cancer screening at least once per year, but your case is different if you come from a family with oral cancer history. You are at high risk of being diagnosed with the disease too, thus you should not wait for one year to go for screening like other people instead you should do it at least once in every three months.
The exact cause of oral cancer is still unknown. However, there is evidence that some habits and risk factors increase the chances of having oral cancer. One of the risk factor is inherited mutation, just like discussed above if there are cases of oral cancer in your family history, you might end up being diagnosed with oral cancer.
Tobacco and alcohol are known to be the biggest risk factors for oral cancer. If you are a smoker or alcoholic, you are more susceptible to needing oral cancer screening. You should go for screening at least once in every 6 months. Other risk factors includes, having a diet rich in processed food, red meat, and fried foods regularly, lips being exposed to ultraviolet, HPV infection, radiotherapy in head and neck, being exposed to certain chemicals among others. If you are at risk of being exposed to such factors, you are more likely to needing oral cancer screening.
How do you treat a patient using oral cancer screening?
- Visual exam
During the visual exam, oral cavity, nose, neck, face and lips are examined. Prior to screening the patient will have to remove any dental appliance that might obstruct the examination. The dentists will look for any abnormality such as swellings, bumps, asymmetries, ulcerations, patches of color among others. The dentist will use tongue depressors to hold the tongue down, and a light and mirror for clear observation.
- Physical exam
The dentist will check the cheeks, head, under the chin, jaw, and oral cavity using his hands to see if he can feel abnormal masses or nodules. The patient may be asked to do some tasks like swallowing or chewing to see whether there is any kind of pain or discomfort on the throat, teeth, gum and other mouth-parts.
What are the symptoms of someone who needs oral cancer screening?
Just like any other disease, oral cancer also comes with numerous signs and symptoms. You should look out for;
- Bleeding sore
- Non-healing sore
- Chronic hoarseness
- Loose teeth
- Painful tongue
- Painful jaw or jaw stiffness
- Painful/difficult swallowing
- Painful/difficult chewing
- peculiar sore throat
Having the above signs doesn’t mean you have oral cancer. Thus, you should consult your dentist. You should not request for cancer screening only during your usual visits, but also make sure to visit a dentist any time the above symptoms persists, and he will check the cause of the signs and symptoms and recommend the necessary treatments.
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Very knowledgeable and informative, explaining all your x-ray and imagery and in creating a course of treatment. The staff is friendly and definitely concerned with their patients. Comfortable environment.
I am not the biggest fan of the dentist, however this was the BEST dentist experience I have ever had! Everyone was so kind and I got everything I needed done in one visit!
Excellent service. Great first impression! Best cleaning I've had in several years, my mouth feels amazing. They even took the time to show me how to brush more effectively. My teeth are back to being pearly white.
They were very prompt and professional. I felt very comfortable in the visit. They have good exam specials without any hidden fees. I have found me a permanent dentist office. Thanks URBN staff.
URBN Dental provided great service and they were all so nice. They did a great job communicating with me and i would recommend to all.
I had a root canal and a crown done here, the entire process took about an hour. Will be back in 2 weeks for my final crown! Great doctor, great staff.