Oral Cancer Screening
Cancer screenings are physical and visual examinations of the body to detect precancerous and cancerous conditions. For example, your mouth may show precancerous conditions that could potentially lead to oral cancer-like tumors or lesions. Some abnormalities are not as visible as others, but abnormal tissue that is found early can help prevent cancer. Screenings are a method of detecting cancer before it begins to spread. An oral cancer screening can be performed by both a dentist and a doctor. Here at Schnierow Dental Care our team is trained in effectively screening our patients.
Proactive screening is the most effective method in preventing cancer. If your dentist suggests a cancer screening, it does not necessarily mean that you do have cancer. Research is underway to better understand the causes and conditions of certain types of cancer and why we get them. Studies are being made on people with different lifestyles and environments to look for common causes. These studies can help doctors better recommend who should be screened for cancer, what type of treatment they should get, and how frequent their tests should be.
Oral and oropharyngeal cancers should be screened annually starting around the age of 18. If a person uses tobacco products, screenings should commence at the age they begin tobacco use. The screenings are usually quick, pain-free, and non-invasive to undergo.
How Many People Have Oral Cancer?
Close to 54,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer this year. Historically the death rate associated with oral cancer is not because it is particularly hard to detect or diagnose, but because it is routinely discovered late in its development. Another obstacle in the fight against oral cancer is that it sometimes emerges in the posterior region of the mouth: the base of the tongue, the tonsils, and the oropharynx making it harder to detect because there are no visible lesions or discolorations in the front of the mouth.
How to Detect and Prevent Oral Cancer
Your chances of successful treatment are much higher when oral cancer is detected early. Oral cancer is especially dangerous because it may not be detected by the patient in its early stages. It can thrive without producing pain or recognizable symptoms and has a high risk of producing second primary tumors. Schnierow Dental Care is here to help. We can see or feel pre-cancer tissue changes, or actual cancer while it is still very small. It may appear as a red or white patch in the mouth, or a small hard ulcer that looks like a canker sore. Because there are so many benign changes in the tissues of the mouth, a bite on the side of your cheek, or a canker sore, it is important to have any sore or discolored area of your mouth that does not heal within 14 days, looked at by a professional. Other symptoms include: a painless mass or lump felt on the inside of the mouth, pain or difficulty in swallowing, chewing, or speaking, and hoarseness that lasts for a long time. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please call (424) 383-5005.