Did you know that new oral cancer cases are reported roughly 35,000 times annually in the USA? How would you know if your mouth is cancer-free? That’s one more reason it’s important to visit your dentist regularly so you can receive a thorough screening for any of the many variants of oral cancer. It’s found most frequently on the tongue, the floor of the mouth, the soft palate, and the tissues of the lips, gums, and back of the tongue. Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to prevent the spread of oral cancer, with the potential onset of chronic pain, loss of oral function, irreparable facial and oral disfigurement following surgery, and even death.
How do we screen for oral cancer at Stadium Dental Center?
Mendy, our hygienist, and Dr. Cardon will screen for oral cancer during routine checkups. During the screening, he or she will feel for lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, cheeks, and oral cavity and will thoroughly examine the soft tissues in your mouth, specifically looking for sores or discolored tissues.
What causes oral cancer?
No research has found a single, consistent cause of any form of oral cancer. There are, however, proven risk factors such as the carcinogens in tobacco products and alcohol and excessive exposure to the sun that are associated with an increase in the occurrence of oral cancer. Research also indicates that some forms of oral cancer may be triggered by infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV).
What are the warning signs?
Oral cancer—identified by red, white, or mixed color lesions, irregularly textured tissue patches, or lumps and bumps in and around the mouth—is typically painless in its early stages. When cancer malignantly spreads and destroys healthy tissue, pain may occur in the lesions or lumps. Contact our office immediately if you find any sore that persists more than two weeks; a swelling, growth, or lump anywhere in or around the mouth or neck; white or red patches in the mouth or on the lips; recurring bleeding within the mouth or throat; painful or difficult swallowing; or persistent hoarseness.
How can I prevent oral cancer?
You can help prevent oral cancer by avoiding all forms of tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption, which multiply your risk when used together. According to a study reported in the April 2015 issue of the journal Cancer, vaccines that have been developed to prevent HPV may also lower the risk of developing oral cancer. Because successful treatment and rehabilitation depend on early detection, it’s vital to regularly check your mouth for changes in appearance at home and visit our Jefferson City dental office for an oral cancer screening and regular checkup at least every six months. Survival rates go much higher the sooner oral cancer is discovered and treated. During your next dental visit, we’ll do an oral cancer screening so you can have peace of mind knowing what your cancer status is.