When Should One Get an Oral Cancer Screening?
You have probably witnessed or even read about the devastating effects of cancer. Oral cancer is one of its most prevalent forms impacting the head and neck. Unfortunately, it can have fatal results if not diagnosed and treated early. Continue reading to learn about oral cancer screening in Mississauga, ON.
What Is Oral Cancer Screening, and What Is Its Importance?
Oral cancer screening is an exam to detect signs of cancer in the head and neck. The dentist examines your gums, tongue, lips, cheek lining, tonsils, and floor and roof of the mouth. They check for lesions and abnormalities that indicate mouth, jaw, or tongue cancer. If any are found, they refer you to a cancer specialist for further testing, diagnosis, and treatment.
Oral cancer exams are important because they promote early diagnosis and treatment. Statistics show that the disease has high fatality rates if detected late in its development. Only half the people diagnosed with oral cancer live five years after the results. Therefore, detecting cancer in its early stages increases the chances of successful treatment.
When and How Often Should You Get an Oral Cancer Screening?
Generally, you should have your first oral cancer screening at 18 years of age. However, some factors can necessitate earlier screening of the disease. The risk factors include having a family history of oral cancer or the human papillomavirus. In addition, patients who are out in the sun often or use tobacco and alcohol also need early screening.
If you have such risks, the dentist will begin screening for the disease earlier and more often. In addition, they incorporate them in routine dental exams to promote early detection. The dental health specialist may also encourage self-exams in between regular dental checkups. This involves checking your mouth in a mirror, looking for sores, lumps, or white patches.
Oral Cancer Screening Procedure
First, the dentist will inquire about the patient’s lifestyle habits since they contribute to high oral cancer risk. For example, they will ask if you use tobacco, take alcohol regularly, or are often exposed to the sun. The dentist will also look into your history to determine if there are genetic cancer risks. Finally, they will inquire about your diet, HPV, and environment.
Next, they will do a visual exam to check for abnormal tissues and thick white or red patches in your mouth or throat. They will also ask if you have experienced any potential symptoms of oral cancer. These include persistent sore throat, unexplained changes to your voice, and vague, persistent pains in the mouth.
After the visual exam, the dentist will check for unusual bumps or lumps around your neck and face. Next, they will use their hands to determine if the jaws, areas under the chin, or cheeks have any masses or firm nodules. The dental expert will also ask if you feel sore or tender in the regions. This process is known as palpitation.
The dentist uses tools to help identify abnormal oral tissues during the screening. For example, they may use a blue dye that highlights cancerous tissues. Additionally, they may ask you to rinse your mouth using a fluorescent mouthwash. Then, they will shine a special screening light on your mouth to check for diseased tissues.
If there are any signs of the disease, the dentist will recommend a scalpel biopsy. It is a test that involves taking some tissues from the area and sending them to the lab. They will check for cancer cells at the lab, and if any are found, you will be referred to an oncologist. This expert will perform a comprehensive oral cancer exam for a correct diagnosis.
Oral Cancer Treatment
If your oral cancer screening in Mississauga, ON, shows signs of the disease, treatment is necessary. The specialist will create a treatment plan based on the symptoms and stage of the disease. They may recommend radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, or a combination of radiation and chemotherapy.
Choose to Get Screened
Whether you have risk factors for oral cancer or not, dentists recommend bi-annual oral cancer screenings. Screening for oral cancer is fast, easy, and straightforward. Therefore, you do not have to dread the process. Instead, book an appointment with the experts at Pearl Dental Care for dental exams. We will incorporate oral cancer screening in the checkup.