EARLY DETECTION IS KEY! Oral cancer occurs when cells in the mouth (including tongue, lips, cheeks and throat) grow abnormally. Fortunately, oral cancer can be treated if detected early enough. Dentistry on the Mountain encourages patients to schedule regular oral cancer screenings, especially if they are at a higher risk for developing oral cancer. Risk factors for oral cancer include smoking or using tobacco, heavy alcohol use, frequent sun exposure, HPV, being male, and being over the age of 40.
Warnings signs of oral cancer include:
- Swelling, lumps or thick patches in the mouth/throat
- White or red lesions in the mouth
- Pain or numbness in the mouth
- Sore throat, problems swallowing, or the feeling of a stuck object or lump
- Hoarseness in the throat
It’s imperative to see a health or dental professional immediately if you suspect any of the above signs.
About the Screening
During a typical oral cancer screening, a patient’s health history is first reviewed. Next, the dental professional closely examines the mouth, including the gums, cheeks, below the tongue, roof/floor, back of the mouth, and throat. The dental professional then feels for any problems in areas such as the neck, jaw, lips, around the ears, and major salivary glands. A special light device, such as a VELscope®, may also be used to visualize any precancerous or cancerous areas.
Most patients agree that oral screenings are quick and painless, and often leave the office feeling great about their proactive decision. Schedule an oral cancer screening appointment today.