Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer is cancer that originates in your mouth. While it does not often get as much attention as other forms of cancer, it is still a serious condition that can be fatal if not detected and treated right away. At Summit Dental Care, we can help to detect the early warning signs of oral cancer, enabling you to get the treatment you need right away, with oral cancer screenings.
Who Gets Oral Cancer Screenings?
Oral cancer screenings are part of your standard dental exams. Typically, everyone is given an oral cancer screening starting around the age of 18. Screenings may be done earlier for those who start smoking before 18. They are generally recommended annually. For those who have more risk factors for oral cancer, however, they may be performed biannually.
Why Do I Need an Oral Cancer Screening?
Oral cancer screenings are an important part of your routine dental exams. The earliest warning signs are typically very difficult to detect on your own. If you do develop oral cancer, it may go unnoticed for quite some time. When symptoms do become more prevalent, cancer may have worsened and spread. As it advances and spreads, it becomes more difficult to treat. It can even be fatal.
How Do I Know if I’m at Risk for Oral Cancer?
There are certain factors that can put you at a greater risk of developing oral cancer. One of the biggest factors is smoking and using other tobacco products. Those who drink heavily are also at an increased risk. Other risk factors include family history, sex, and your age. Just because you do not have any significant risk factors; however, that does not mean you cannot develop oral cancer. The disease can impact anyone, so regular screenings are incredibly important.
Is an Oral Cancer Screening Painful?
Your oral cancer screening is not painful at all. You might never even notice that the screening is being done. We look over the soft tissues in your mouth, looking for unusual coloration, growths, and anything else that looks suspicious. We look at your lips, cheeks, tongue, and palate. You may feel us move your tongue so we can check underneath it. We also feel your neck and throat for swelling and growths.
What Happens if Signs of Oral Cancer are Detected?
If we do find signs of oral cancer, it is important not to panic. A more thorough examination will be needed. While what we find could be oral cancer, it is also possible that is another issue entirely, or it is nothing at all. One of the most common ways to diagnose oral cancer is with what is called a soft tissue biopsy. This is a process in which we remove a small amount of tissue from the abnormality so that we can examine it under a microscope. This will allow us to determine the presence of cancerous cells. Should you be diagnosed with oral cancer, we can then help you to get the treatment you need right away. Treatments may include surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.
Detecting oral cancer early is essential for protecting your health, and can even be life-saving. For more information, call Summit Dental Care at (208) 490-8141 today.