Oral cancer includes cancers of the lips, tongue, palate, teeth, cheeks and gums. Some medical researchers also include cancer of the tonsils and upper part of the pharynx in the category of oral cancers. Altogether, these cancers account for 2.9 percent of all cancer diagnoses in the USA. An oral cancer screening offers the chance at early detection, which could improve your chances at beating the disease.
What to Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening
During an oral cancer screening, you will lay in a dentist’s chair with your mouth open. The dentist will use a light to see inside of your oral cavity. Every area of your mouth will be checked for suspicious ulcers, lesions, and discolored areas. The dentist will check under your tongue, on the back of your mouth and around your lips, inner cheeks, gums, and palate.
What to Do If a Screening Detects a Suspicious Area
If an oral cancer screening suggests that there is an area of your mouth that requires further investigation, your dentist may do a biopsy. This involves collecting a small amount of tissue and sending it to a pathology lab for analysis. If the area is cancerous, you may be referred to an oncologist for more testing and treatment.
Lowering Your Risk of Oral Cancer
You can take action now to lower your risk of oral cancer. Quitting the use of all tobacco products, including cigars, cigarettes and chewing tobacco, reduces your risk of oral cancer. You may also want to inquire with your physician or health department about the HPV vaccine. This vaccine protects you from infection with several strains of the human papillomavirus that are known to cause cancers of the mouth, throat, head and neck.
Turn to Jim Spurgeon, DDS for your oral cancer screening needs.