Are you aware of the importance of screening for oral cancer? Even if you practice good oral hygiene and have never smoked, your risk may still be greater than you think. Early symptoms can easily go unnoticed or be mistaken for something else, making it extremely important to get regular screenings. This blog post provides a better understanding of what is involved and why an early diagnosis of this serious disease makes a difference in treatment options. Read on to learn more about when it’s best to get screened for oral cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals between the ages of 40 and 75 should get screened for oral cancer every three years. Your dentist or doctor may recommend it more frequently depending on your personal risk factors and health situation. In addition to regularly scheduled checkups, it is also important to stay aware of any changes in your mouth or throat area. If you notice any changes in the color or texture of tissues or lesions in your mouth/throat contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Although anyone can develop oral cancer, certain factors make you more likely to be affected. These include tobacco use in any form (smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes or chewing tobacco), heavy alcohol consumption, HPV infection, a family history of oral cancer, increasing age, and prior diagnosis of head or neck cancer. If you have any one of these risk factors, it’s important to talk with your doctor about when you should get screened for oral cancer. You may need to start earlier than the recommended age range or receive more frequent screenings.
During an oral cancer screening, your doctor will examine your mouth and throat for any signs of abnormal cells or tumors. This can include checking for bumps, growths, lumps or changes in the color of the tissue (such as white patches), as well as feeling for any unusual lumps or movement in the lymph nodes in your neck area. In some cases, a special light may be used to help detect precancerous conditions. Depending on the complexity of your case, an oral cancer screening can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. If anything unusual is found, they may order additional tests such as an X-ray or biopsy in order to make a more accurate diagnosis. The entire process usually does not take much longer than an hour.
To stay ahead of oral cancer and help ensure the best possible outcomes, it’s important to get screened regularly according to your doctor’s recommendations. Regular dental checkups should not replace screenings specifically designed for oral cancer detection, but they can still provide useful insights and may even save lives in the long run. No matter which route you take in achieving a successful outcome, doing some form of oral cancer screening is an important part of overall health care – and should never be overlooked! So don’t miss out on essential medical attention and contact us today at Renova Smiles to schedule an emergency visit for your oral cancer screening needs! We use the highly effective and highly convenient VELscope® enhanced oral assessment system to screen you for oral cancer.