Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer refers to cancer of the mouth. It is the largest group of head and neck cancers and can start just about anywhere in the mouth, including your lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, and the back of your mouth near your throat. Detecting and treating oral cancer early is essential for preventing serious consequences. Untreated oral cancer can be deadly. The earlier treatment is provided, the greater your chances for making a full recovery. At Sylvan Heights Dental, we can aid in the early detection of oral cancer at your routine dental exams with oral cancer screenings.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can affect anyone. However, there are certain factors that can increase your risk. These risk factors include:
|A family history of oral cancer. If you have immediate family members who have had oral cancer, such as a parent, your risk is higher.
|How old you are. Older adults are at greater risk.
|Your sex. Men are more at risk than women. Men over the age of 55 are particularly vulnerable.
|Certain lifestyle factors. Those who use tobacco products have a very high risk of oral cancer. Approximately 90% of oral cancer patients have smoked or used other tobacco products. Alcohol consumption is another significant risk factor. Around 70 to 80% of oral cancer patients have been heavy drinkers.
|Certain strains of HPV. While there are many strains of HPV, only a handful of them is connected to oral cancer. The one with the greatest link is HPV16.
What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
When oral cancer first begins, it can be difficult to detect. You might never even know that there was anything wrong. By the time those with oral cancer begin to notice any symptoms, cancer has begun to spread, making it more difficult to treat. Symptoms of oral cancer include:
|Unusual growths in your mouth.
|Red or white patches on your intraoral tissues.
|Lesions that refuse to heal.
|Changes in your bite or in how dentures fit.
|Difficulties with eating, speaking or swallowing.
|Numbness in your chin.
Your Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screenings are performed at every routine dental exam. We are highly experienced in detecting symptoms of the earliest stages of oral cancer, allowing you to get the treatment you need right away before more serious consequences arise. During your dental exams, we look over your intraoral tissues, checking for any unusual growths, lesions, or other abnormalities. We assess your bite and check for swelling in your face and neck. The entire process is quick and painless.
What if Something is Found?
If something unusual is found in your mouth, a closer examination is required. In addition to visually examining the abnormality, we take x-rays of your mouth. We may also perform a soft tissue biopsy. A biopsy involves removing a small portion of the soft tissue for closer examination under a microscope. With this type of testing, we can see abnormal cells, allowing us to diagnose, or rule out, the presence of oral cancer. If you are diagnosed with oral cancer, we can then help you to get the treatment you need right away.
Oral cancer screenings are performed at every routine dental exam. With early detection, we can help you to get the treatment you need right away. Call Sylvan Heights Dental at (503) 297-1471 for more information and to schedule your appointment today.