Are You Putting Your Life at Risk? Oral Cancer Screening Facts Everyone Should Know
Many people don’t realize that the mouth is one of the most common sites for developing head and neck cancers. The good news is that early detection greatly increases survival rates for these types of cancers. That’s why it’s so important to get yearly screenings as soon as you reach adulthood.
Oral cancer screenings are very effective at detecting early signs of oral cancer. They can detect tumors in the mouth and throat that may not be visible to the naked eye. An experienced professional can also perform a physical exam of the head, neck, face, and jaw to look for any abnormal changes or growths. When caught early, treatment is more successful and less invasive. Oral cancer screenings are recommended on an annual basis by most dental professionals as part of routine check-ups.
During a routine exam, your dentist will look for any signs of oral cancer. This includes red or white patches on the gums, lips, and tongue, as well as any lumps in the neck and jaw area. For example, red or white patches on the gums may be a sign of oral cancer. These patches, also called leukoplakia, consist of thickened areas in the mouth that can’t easily be wiped away. Your dentist may also take a tissue sample to look for abnormal cells under a microscope.
If your dentist finds anything suspicious, they will likely recommend you get an additional screening such as an MRI or CT scan. MRI scans are often used when other methods may have difficulty detecting abnormalities or if doctors need to get more information than what an X-ray or CT scan provides. They may also refer you to an oncologist who can further evaluate you and decide if treatment is necessary.
In addition to screenings, there are several lifestyle changes you can make that may lower your risk of developing oral cancer. Quitting smoking is especially important since tobacco use greatly increases your risk of head and neck cancers. Additionally, drinking excessively can increase your risk, so limiting alcohol consumption is a good idea.
Finally, it’s important to note that oral cancer can affect anyone at any age. That’s why it’s essential to be proactive about scheduling regular screenings and paying attention to changes in your mouth. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, such as a sore that won’t heal or unusual lumps or patches on the mouth, make sure to tell your dentist right away. Early detection may save your life! Also, if you are due for a screening or think you may have symptoms of oral cancer, contact us today at Renova Smiles. We would be happy to help get you the care and treatment you need.