Oral Cancer Screening
The National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society have reported that one of the most common cancers in the United States is oral cancer. Over 53,000 people across the country will develop it this year, and an average of 10,000 fatalities are expected. While these statistics can be unnerving, one of the best ways to prevent complications with oral cancer is with regular dental exams and oral cancer screenings.
An oral cancer screening is a simple, quick, and painless way to detect early signs of cancer.
At Platinum Dental Group, we have teams of highly trained and experienced dental professionals who provide regular oral cancer screenings throughout New Jersey. We use the latest technology to ensure that we can catch any early signs of oral cancer, and we work with you to create a treatment plan that is best for your individual needs.
Oral cancer occurs in almost any part of the oral cavity but is most often found on the gums, the tongue, the tonsils, the floor of the mouth, the oropharynx, lips, the cheek lining, or the hard palate.
In the early stages, symptoms of oral cancer can be challenging to detect. Often, oral cancer does not cause pain, making it hard to spot. That is why getting regular screening tests is so important.
Some common symptoms include:
- Sores or irritation that won’t go away
- Lumps in the mouth or on the lip
- White or red patches on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or inner lining of the mouth
- Consistent difficulty with chewing or swallowing
- Feeling like something is caught in the throat
- Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
While anyone can be affected, oral cancer is twice as likely to be present in men than in women, and the risks increase with age. Those most at risk are men over 50 with a poor diet who smoke frequently and partake in heavy alcohol consumption.
Additional high-risk factors may include:
- UV exposure from the sun or sunlamps found in tanning beds
- GERD (gastro-intestinal reflux disease)
- prior head and neck radiation treatment
- exposure to certain chemicals like formaldehyde
- a weakened immune system
- previous history or family history of oral cancer
- HPV (human papillomavirus) infection
It is crucial to speak with your dentist about any concerns about your oral health. It is also always recommended that you continue a good oral hygiene routine, including regular dental visits, to ensure your oral health is at its best and catch any early signs of disease.
What Does an Oral Cancer Screening Entail?
The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that the survival rate for oral cancers is about 83% if caught early. However, when the disease is found in later stages, the survival rate drops to about 56% when the disease is found in later stages. Therefore, early detection is vital, and an oral cancer screening is a simple, quick, and painless part of a comprehensive dental exam. An oral exam should be done at least once a year.
One of the first things the dentist will do is review your medical and dental histories and ask if there have been any significant changes to your oral or dental health. We will then visually and physically examine your mouth for any signs or symptoms of disease, including feeling for lumps or bumps, looking for red or white patches, checking your lymph nodes, and taking x-rays. In some cases, a special light called a Velscope may be used. The Velscope emits a safe blue light that makes it easier to see any abnormal tissue changes that may not be visible to the naked eye.
If we find anything during the screening that concerns us, we will order additional tests or refer you for further testing.
Oral Cancer Screening in New Jersey
At Platinum Dental Group, we recommend oral cancer screenings for all our patients at least once a year. We use modern dental technology to screen and catch even the slightest signs of oral cancer, and our team will ensure you are informed and comfortable throughout the process.
If you have any questions about oral cancer screenings or would like to schedule a dental appointment, please contact a Platinum Dental Group location near you today!