An oral cancer screening could play a definitive role in early discovery, treatment and ultimate recovery from this serious disease that is not as talked about as much as other types of cancer.
Not as many people know the risk factors for oral cancer, but almost 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed this year, and over 9,750 will die from the disease. You should know when you’re a candidate for a screening and if you can make lifestyle changes that will decrease your risk of diagnosis.
It’s in Your History
If there have been previous diagnoses of oral cancer in your family’s medical history, you need a regular screening. Your doctor, dentist, orthodontist and oral surgeon should all be aware, allowing them to remain hyper-vigilant about noticing questionable symptoms. Make sure you communicate this history to them and follow all recommendations for regular testing.
You Smoke, Chew and Drink
Smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco are two major risk factors for oral cancer. Drinking alcohol, especially if you drink in excess, is another. If you regularly use cigars, pipes, snuff or consume tobacco in any form, you should get tested. If you drink frequently and in large amounts, you should also schedule a screening appointment.
You’ve Had it Before
Any previous diagnoses put you at risk for more unwanted developments. Any actual or suspected signs of this type of cancer (and all cancers) should always involve regular follow-up examinations to check if the disease has returned, and if it does, gets treated immediately.
You Notice Suspicious Changes
If you notice any unusual changes in the oral region, schedule a screening. This could include a mouth sore that bleeds constantly and will not heal. Other problematic signs include a thickening of tissue in the mouth. If your gums are unusually swollen and your teeth begin to loosen, this is another bad sign.
Contact your dentist or doctor if you have any jaw pain, difficulty chewing, swollen lymph nodes in the neck or a constant sore throat.
What to Expect
An oral cancer screening involves a full visual and physical examination of the oral region. If suspicious areas are noted, your doctor or dentist might refer you to an oral surgeon for further pathology testing.
How We Can Help
Early intervention is key to successful treatment. In fact, the death rate is higher for oral cancer than it is for cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and thyroid cancer because it typically is not discovered until it is in late stages. Staying proactive with regular screening and testing is a good defense, and we support you in that effort.
At Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we provide oral cancer screening through extensive pathology testing procedures.