Oral Cancer Screening
At each dental visit, we perform an oral cancer screening by checking the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer. When oral cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages, treatment is generally very effective. An oral cancer screening is a visual and physical examination performed by Dr. Lemons to detect signs of oral cancer or precancerous conditions in the mouth and oral cavity. Oral cancer screenings are conducted as part of your routine dental check-up or dental examination, although they can also be performed separately if you are experiencing symptoms or have risk factors for oral cancer.
What does it involve?
Visual Examination: Dr. Lemons begins by visually inspecting the inside of your mouth, lips, gums, tongue, cheeks, throat, and other oral tissues for any abnormalities or suspicious signs. This may include changes in color, texture, size, shape, or appearance of the oral tissues.
Physical Examination: Dr. Lemons may use gloved hands and a tongue depressor to carefully palpate (feel) the oral tissues and surrounding areas for any lumps, bumps, swellings, or areas of tenderness that may indicate underlying abnormalities or pathology.
Use of Screening Tools: In some cases, Dr. Lemons may use specialized screening tools or devices to aid in the detection of oral cancer. This may include advanced technologies such as fluorescence visualization or tissue fluorescence imaging to detect abnormal cellular changes in the oral tissues.
Patient History: Dr. Lemons may ask you about your medical history, lifestyle habits (such as tobacco and alcohol use), family history of cancer, and any symptoms or concerns you may have related to your oral health. This information helps assess your risk factors for oral cancer and informs the screening process.
Referral for Further Evaluation: If suspicious lesions or abnormalities are detected during the oral cancer screening, Dr. Lemons may recommend further evaluation, such as a biopsy or referral to a specialist (such as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or oral pathologist) for additional testing and diagnosis. Early detection and prompt treatment of oral cancer are essential for improving outcomes and survival rates.
Overall, oral cancer screenings are an important component of preventive dental care and can help detect oral cancer at an early stage when it is most treatable. It's essential to undergo regular dental check-ups and screenings, maintain good oral hygiene, and be aware of any changes or abnormalities in your oral health that may require evaluation by Dr. Lemons. If you have concerns about oral cancer or risk factors for the disease, discuss them with your dentist, who can provide personalized guidance and recommendations for screening and prevention.
What are the signs and symptoms of oral cancer?
Oral cancer refers to a type of cancer that develops in the tissues of the mouth or oral cavity. This includes the lips, tongue, gums, inner lining of the cheeks, floor of the mouth, roof of the mouth (palate), and throat (pharynx). Oral cancer can arise from the cells lining the oral cavity, such as squamous cells (squamous cell carcinoma), as well as from other types of cells found in the mouth.
Oral cancer typically presents as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not heal or resolve over time. It may appear as a white or red patch, lump, ulcer, or thickening of the oral tissues. Symptoms of oral cancer may include:
- Persistent sore throat or hoarseness
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Persistent mouth pain or discomfort
- Swelling or thickening of the lips, gums, or oral tissues
- Difficulty moving the tongue or jaw
- Changes in the appearance of the tongue, such as a persistent sore or lump
- Bleeding or numbness in the mouth
- Unexplained weight loss
- Ear pain or a feeling of something stuck in the throat
It's important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, such as infections or non-cancerous lesions. However, if you experience any persistent symptoms or changes in your oral health, it's essential to seek evaluation for proper diagnosis and management.
What are the risk factors for oral cancer?
Risk factors for oral cancer include tobacco use (including smoking and smokeless tobacco), heavy alcohol consumption, infection with certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), sun exposure (which increases the risk of lip cancer), poor oral hygiene, a family history of oral cancer, and older age. Early detection and prompt treatment of oral cancer are crucial for improving outcomes and increasing survival rates.