Oral Cancer Screening
At your next check-up, you may want to ask the team of dental professionals at Loretto Family Dentistry about oral cancer screening.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cavity cancer is one of the most prevalent diseases in the world. All cancers are the result of uncontrolled cellular gene mutations that result in the growth of tumors. In the case of oral cancer, these changes occur primarily in squamous cells. Squamous cells are flat cells that form the lining of the mouth and throat.
Oral cancer can develop on or under the tongue or at its base or on the lips. This type of cancer may also occur in the tissue that lines the mouth and gums or in the oropharynx. The oropharynx is the area in the back of the mouth around the throat and is the starting point of oropharyngeal cancer.
Who Is at Risk of Oral Cancer?
People with a history of excessive tobacco use of any kind - cigarettes, cigars, electronic cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, waterpipes - are at high risk for developing oral cancers. Excessive consumption of alcohol is also a prominent risk factor in oral cancer. Infections brought on by the human papillomavirus (HPV), specifically the HPV 16 type, is another risk factor for oral cavity cancers.
The risk of oral cancer also gets greater with age, with the majority of diagnosis often occurring in people over the age of 40. The disease is also more prevalent in men than in women. Diets low in fruits and vegetables may play a role in oral cancer development.
Signs of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is often overlooked as some of its red flags look like less serious everyday issues like cold sores. This type of cancer, however, spreads quickly. Early detection is essential for positive outcomes and less invasive treatment options. You should pay close attention to the following symptoms, especially if you fall into the high-risk category for oral cavity cancer.
Signs of oral cancer may include a sore, lump, or area of irritation in the mouth, lip, or throat. You may also see a thick white or red patch in your mouth and a feeling that something is in your throat. Someone with oral cancer may also find it difficult to chew, swallow, or move their jaw or tongue with ease. Their jaws may show signs of swelling, and the tongue may be numb. They may also have pain in one or both ears, even though their hearing is still functional.
What to Expect at an Oral Cancer Screening?
Oral cancer screenings are quick and painless. The examination can be done as part of your regular dental checkup. Expect our dentists to thoroughly check your face, neck, lips, and entire oral cavity for any signs of abnormalities. They’ll also palpate the tissues in your mouth and around the throat as they feel for any lumps or other masses. Depending on what we find and any present risk factors, we may recommend a more in-depth examination that may include taking a biopsy.
For more information on oral cancer screening or to make an appointment call us at Loretto Family Dentistry at (940) 287-3535 today.