What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer Screening

What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer Screening

May 1, 2021

According to Oral Cancer Foundation(OCF), about 53,000 American adults are diagnosed with oral cancer annually. Additionally, about 9,750 of those die as a result. Furthermore, oral cancer accounts for about 30 percent of all cancer cases globally. But, interestingly, the problem with oral cancer is not the lack of testing centers, but late testing. That is why you are advised to visit the dentist in Livonia regularly to get cancer screening.

What is Oral Cancer Screening?

Oral cancer screening is a series of tests done to examine the mouth, gums, palate, and soft tissues. The primary purpose of oral cancer tests is to check for any precancerous lesions, tumors, or abnormal cells.

Who Should Get Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer screening in Livonia, MI is ideal for everyone, but it is more recommended for people who are at risk of developing mouth cancer. Tobacco smoking or chewing is the primary trigger of oral cancer. Other factors include genetics, poor nutrition, age, gender (occurs mostly in men), and Human Papillomavirus.

It is important to note that while these factors put you at risk, you can still develop mouth cancer even though you are not at risk.

Why is Oral Cancer Screening Important?

Oral cancer has no obvious symptoms in the initial stages and as such, it can go undetected. Without early diagnosis, the cancer cells can multiply and cause severe symptoms in the advanced stages. With mouth cancer screening, the dentist can check for lesions and ulcerations that are precancerous.

It is important for you to do a daily examination of your teeth and gums, whether you have the risk factors or not. Idiopathic gum bleeding, lumps, and white patches on the gums are some of the symptoms of oral cancer.

How Often Should Oral Cancer Screening Be Done?

The frequency of mouth cancer screening depends on your age and risk factor. For healthy adults between 20 to 40 years should get mouth cancer screenings every three years. Those above 40 years need to have the procedure done annually. Also, you need to get oral cancer screening once a year if you have any of the risk factors mentioned above.

What Can You Expect During Your Oral Cancer Screening Procedure?

The dentist will do two different exams to check the mouth and soft tissues.

  • Visual exams involve checking the face, lips, neck, and nasal cavity for any bumps, ulcerations, patches, abnormalities, and swelling.
  • A physical exam is also done to check for unusual masses and immobile tissues. The dentist will touch the cheeks, head, and around the jaw.

If the dentist detects any ulcerations, the dentist will recommend a biopsy to check if they are cancerous or not. it is a mildly invasive procedure where the doctor will take a sample of the lesion for further examination.

What Are the Limitations of Oral Cancer Screening?

Oral cancer is used as a prevention tool and not diagnostic, and it has a few limitations.

  • Additional tests. The oral cancer tests can only detect swelling or abnormal cells. It will not determine if the abnormal growth is cancerous or not. The dentist will recommend other tests to make a proper diagnosis.
  • The cancer screening tests do not detect small precancerous lesions and they may go unnoticed and continue to grow.

What if The Abnormal Cells or Lesions Are Detected?

If a biopsy is done and cancer is detected, a suitable treatment is started to get rid of the cells or stop their multiplication. The doctor may use or multiple treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery.

Can You Prevent Mouth Cancer?

Preventing oral cancer may be impossible, but there are ways you can reduce the chances of you developing it.

  • Avoid smoking and chewing tobacco. Also, stay away from second-hand smoke as it has the same effects.
  • Stop drinking alcohol or drink it in moderation
  • Have a healthy lifestyle and eat nutritious foods
  • Avoid direct sunlight by applying sunscreen
  • Get regular dental checkups and cleaning

Schedule an Appointment

Visit Willow Wood Dental for more information on oral cancer screening and how to prevent mouth cancer.