The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
Dentists can perform oral cancer screenings to identify oral cancers at their early and most curable stages. Of all types of cancer, oral cancer has one of the highest risks of death. About 9,750 deaths per year in America can be attributed to oral cancer, and about 50,000 new cases are discovered every year.
The World Health Organization prioritizes early detection as one of the best ways to control cancer development. Treatment of oral cancers is usually more successful when the cancer is discovered early. This is why oral screenings from your dentist are very important.
Oral Cancer Screening Procedure
In most cases, your regular dental exam can include an oral screening. The dentist will perform a visual physical examination of your mouth and throat. This will involve checking the gum tissues, the roof and floor of the tongue, the inside of the cheeks, and other parts of your mouth and throat for signs of discolorations, texture changes, sores, lumps and other abnormalities.
If the dentist notices anything like a lump or a sore, he or she may ask whether it hurts or how long you’ve had whatever it is. The dentist may also ask about symptoms like sore throat as well as difficulty with swallowing or eating. You may be asked to come back in a few weeks’ time if the dentist feels like a formation or any particular sign in your mouth may be pointing to oral cancer.
Many people overlook the common symptoms that may point to oral cancer. But your dentist should be able to identify these signs before they become more serious. According to the American Cancer Society, these symptoms include:
- A sore in the mouth that doesn’t heal
- Pain in the mouth that doesn’t go away
- A lump or thickening in the cheek
- White or red patches on the gums, tongue, tonsil or lining of the mouth
It may seem scary if your dentist diagnoses oral cancer. But then, the earlier you discover and treat it, the better the odds for success. You should always have your regular dental checkups to help you discover issues before they become problematic. This will help ensure there are fewer risks and threats to both your dental health and overall health.
Ready to schedule an appointment with Dr. Pollock? Give our office a call today.