The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer is a serious condition but can be treated especially if detected early. Once detected early most oral cancer cases are treated successfully. Here at Prescott Dental Arts we have experienced specialists who perform routine oral cancer screenings as part of our patients 6 month checkup. Having oral cancer screenings every 6 months is the best way to detect cancer as early as possible.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ORAL CANCER
Oral cancer occurs when cells begin to divide and multiply abnormally. When this occurs growths appear on the soft tissues in the mouth. Oral cancer unfortunately can affect any part of the mouth. However, there are certain areas of the mouth that are affected more commonly like the lips, gums, throat, floor of the mouth, roof of the mouth or soft palate, and tongue.
Oral cancer can be a silent disease and can unfortunately sneak up on a person if they aren’t getting regular screenings. It is a silent disease because there is rarely any pain or discomfort in the early stages. Some signs of oral cancer include:
- Red or white patches inside of mouth
- The feeling of a lump in the throat
- Pain when swallowing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Mouth pain
- Numbness in mouth or neck
- Lip or mouth sores that won’t heal
- Loose teeth
- Red and inflamed gums
- Bleeding gums
ORAL CANCER RISK FACTORS
There are several factors that can increase your risk for developing oral cancer. These risk factors include tobacco use (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, and pipes etc.), alcohol abuse, over exposure to sunlight to the lips, HPV, family history of cancer, or an immune system that is weakened. If you believe you may be at risk for oral cancer it’s important to see our team at Prescott Dental Arts for a screening. Dr. Herbert and his team are trained to detect oral cancer in the early stages.
ORAL CANCER SCREENINGS: WHAT TO EXPECT
An oral cancer screening or exam is painless and is performed while the patient relaxes in the dental chair. During the screening a patient will be asked to remove dentures or partials if they have them. Dr. Herbert will then inspect the face, lips, mouth, and neck looking for any signs of cancer. He will then use both hands to feel the side of the neck and area under the jaw. This is done to check for lumps that may indicate cancer growth.
Dr. Herbert will then inspect inside the mouth checking the insides of the cheeks and lips. During this inspection he is looking for any red or white patches. Also during this screening the tongue is checked and inspected. He uses a gauze to gently grasp the tongue and move it side to side checking all areas. The tongue is checked for any abnormal color, texture or swelling.
The screening will also include an inspection of the floor and roof of the mouth as well as the back of the throat. During the last step of the screening Dr. Herbert puts a finger in the patient’s mouth, on the floor of the mouth, and the other hand under the chin. As this is done, he will press gently down on the floor of the mouth. This technique allows him to feel for lumps or any sensitivity. During the entire screening he will look and feel for any abnormalities, lumps, sores, discomfort or sensitivity. If anything is detected a biopsy will be performed and sent to a lab for diagnosis.
Oral cancer screenings are so important for the early detection of cancer. The screenings are simple, quick, painless, and highly effective. If you have any questions or concerns contact Prescott Dental Arts to learn more about oral cancer screenings and to schedule an appointment.
Call us at (928) 445-8980
Prescott Dental Arts
1787 Willow Creek Rd.
Prescott, AZ 86301