• Oral Cancer Screening

  • Oral Cancer Screening

    Early detection is the best way to combat any form of cancer and oral cancer is no different. Diagnosing oral cancer through regular screenings is key to preventing and effectively treating the condition. Our goal is to find oral, neck and head cancers as soon as possible when patients come in with symptoms of bleeding, pain, dysphagia or otalgia. Our dentist can carefully examine the mouth and neck, which usually only takes a few minutes. This short exam is critical to the prevention, treatment and cure of early stage oral cancer.

    About 37,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Only 57% of those will be alive in 5 years. The reason that oral cancer has such a low survival rate is due to it being diagnosed in late stages. It is usually found after it has metastasized. This is not because it is difficult to find but because people are not being checked for it.You are the most important factor in early detection of oral cancer. Although we screen for cancer when you have your teeth cleaned or when you come in for a complete exam, sometimes you will notice changes in between visits which should be evaluated.

    Signs and Symptoms

    Things to look for at home

    • Sore that doesn't heal in 2-3 weeks
    • Red, white or blue patch
    • Lump or thickening in cheek
    • Numbness in mouth that didn't used to be there
    • Swelling that causes dentures to fit poorly (not to be confused with a denture sore)

    These symptoms could be caused by problems which are less serious but should be checked to rule out oral cancer.

    Risk Factors

    • Alcohol and tobacco use
    • Human Papilloma Virus
    • Unknown (5%) -- Genetics suspected

    Historically, nearly 75% of oral cancer was related to alcohol and tobacco use and was found in the 50+ age group. Recently, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has started to change the trend. Younger, non-smokers are the fastest growing group of oral cancer patients. This means that people ages 20 and up are at risk even if they don't smoke.

    Oral Cancer Screening

    • Check face for assymetry, swelling, discoloration, ulceration
    • Palpate lymphatic chains
    • Evaluate lips (inside and out)
    • Evaluate cheeks (inside and out)
    • Evaluate tongue (both sides, and underneath)
    • Evaluate floor of mouth
    • Evaluate soft palate
    • Check tonsils