Oral cancer is a term used to describe a collective group of cancers that affect the mouth and throat. Oral cancer can affect the structures of the oral cavity such as the lips, inside of the lips and cheeks, teeth, gums, front two-thirds of your tongue, and the floor/roof of your mouth. It can also affect structures in the oropharynx region such as the back of your tongue, tonsils, and middle part of the throat. When caught early, oral cancer is actually quite treatable. At Maxtown Family Dental, we perform oral cancer screenings during our regular dental exams.
Did You Know?
The number of oral cancer cases are rising and the Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that around 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer every year. For this reason, many dentists are now performing screenings to catch any cases of oral cancer early so there is a much higher chance of treatment success.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I need an oral cancer screening?
You may need an oral cancer screening if you are experiencing one or more of the following oral cancer symptoms:
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Change in bite alignment
- Facial, neck, or mouth pain
- Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or vocal changes
- Feeling like something is lodged in your throat
- Weight loss
- Ear pain
- Swelling, lumps, bumps, rough spots, thickening, crusts, or eroded areas on the soft tissues in or around your mouth
- Problems speaking, chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw
Even if you are not experiencing symptoms of oral cancer, it is still recommended to be screened. In most cases, your dentist will simply perform a screening during your semi-annual dental examination.
How are oral cancer screenings performed?
Oral cancer screenings are non-invasive and quick. We will simply evaluate your lips, inner cheeks, gums, tongue, soft and hard palates, and pharynx for any abnormalities in texture or color. A special light that causes abnormal tissue to glow may also be used. In cases where an abnormality is noticed, we may recommend having a biopsy done.
How do I prevent oral cancer?
While not all cases of oral cancer can be prevented, you can minimize your risk by eliminating common risk factors. Risk factors that increase the risk of developing oral cancer include smoking, regularly consuming alcohol, and catching the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).