Oral Cancer Screening
A Quick and Painless Check for Oral Cancer
You make sure to have all your other yearly cancer screenings, but have you been neglecting your mouth? According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, someone dies from oral cancer every hour of every day in the U.S. That’s why we take oral cancer screenings so seriously. We recommend that every new patient receive this important mouth cancer screening, and we recommend that all patients make sure to schedule one at least yearly. In fact, we feel this is so important and often neglected that we screen you for oral cancer at every cleaning or check-up appointment. And, if you see the hygienist and the doctor, we’ll both be taking a look. After all 2 sets of eyes are better than 1!
Early Detection of Oral Cancer Is Key
In its early stages, oral cancer can be treated in up to 90% of cases. However, if the cancer goes undetected, it can become larger or spread to other parts of the body and become more difficult or nearly impossible to treat.
The oral cancer screening-head and neck exam-is one of the most critical components of routine dental care and dental exams. Both your hygienist and your dentist, Dr. Otten, can detect and alert you to suspicious growths and changes.
Signs and symptoms of oral cancer can include:
- Sores that do not heal.
- Lumps on the lip, in the mouth or in the throat.
- White or red patches on the gums, tongue or lining of the mouth.
Unusual bleeding, pain or numbness in the mouth.
- Sore throats that do not go away or a feeling that something is caught in the throat.
- Difficulty or pain when chewing or swallowing.
- Swelling in the neck or throat.
New tests use a special light to illuminate cells in the early stages of change to give us a greater capacity for early diagnosis. Soon, we may even be able to test for genetic markers in saliva to give us even earlier signs of change. Whatever you do, don’t neglect this important aspect of your dental care. The earlier oral cancer is detected, the more likely it is to be treatable.
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