The incidence of oral cancer has trended downward in the past thirty years possibly due to all the educational material available and the research pointing to tobacco use as a primary cause of many types of cancer. One major aid for patients is the oral cancer exam provided by your dentist each and every time you’re seen for a professional cleaning and exam.
The exam performed by your dentist is a visual check looking for symptoms that cancer cells may be present. Your dentist will be looking for any abnormal sores or off-colored patches that could indicate the need for further testing.
Your dentist might recommend one of the various types of oral cancer screenings if you use tobacco products or consume alcohol regularly. These are just two of the lifestyles to which many oral cancer sufferers belong.
If your dentist does find a suspicious spot through an oral cancer screening, the next step to determine whether or not it is cancer is with a biopsy. A small sample of the area is removed and sent to a lab for extensive testing.
Just because your dentist might recommend an oral cancer screening for the patient, there is no cause for alarm. Quite often this precautionary measure is taken to rule out oral cancer especially for patients that have a history of cancer or who smoke or drink heavily.
For those patients that are diagnosed with oral cancer, the oral cancer screening may have saved their life. Cancer diagnosed in early stages has a significantly greater cure rate than advanced cancers. And sadly, oral cancer patients seem to have a higher mortality rate than patients diagnosed with other types of cancer.
The dental exam performed by your dental professional is of utmost importance and should be performed at each hygiene visit. A visual exam of the tongue and areas all around the tongue is done. In addition, many dentists have added a gloved examination of the roof of the mouth as well as feeling for any abnormalities on the neck, throat and jaws.
If you would like more information about the oral cancer screening process, contact us at Hulen Crossing Family Dentistry to schedule an appointment.