Oral Cancer Screening: Is It Really Necessary?

Oral Cancer Screening: Is It Really Necessary?

June 1, 2021

A regular medical check-up is a key to a healthy and long life. In the same vein, a regular oral checkup is necessary to keep a healthy mouth. Oral check-ups should not be underestimated as they can detect unhealthy mouth conditions in time to nip them in the bud.

Cancer is an uncontrollable division and growth of abnormal cells, which invade and destroy body tissues. Oral cancer is a type of cancer that develops in any part of the mouth. Oral cancer first appears as a sore or lumpy growth in the mouth that refuses to go away. It includes cancer of the lips, tongue, cheeks, hard and soft palates, sinuses, and Pharynx. It can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.

Oral cancer screening is a thorough examination through which signs of cancer or precancerous conditions are looked for in your mouth by a dental professional. Oral cancer can be dangerous if not diagnosed and treated early. Therefore, oral cancer screening aims to discover mouth cancer early, when a cure can still be sought. This is why a regular visit to your dentist is recommended for your oral health.

Causes Of Oral Cancer

Abstinence from the known causes of oral cancer does not guarantee you being safe from it. But it does reduce the chances of you getting it.

The leading known cause of oral cancer is smoking. People who smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc, are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancer.

Smokeless tobacco users who use dip, snuff, or chew tobacco products are also more likely to develop oral cancer. One might think they are safe since it doesn’t involve the inhalation of smoke. But this set of people are 50 times more likely to develop cancers of the cheek, gums, and lip linings.

Regular excessive intake of alcohol also increases the risks of developing oral cancer. Drinkers are six times more liable to develop oral cancer than non-drinkers.

HPV, Human papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted disease that has been said to increase the chances of developing oral cancer. Certain HPV strains are etiologic risk factors for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC).

A history of excessive sun exposure, especially at a young age, increases the risk of lip cancer.

Finally, a family history of cancer or a previous diagnosis of oral cancer can increase your chances of developing oral cancer.

Symptoms Of Oral Cancer

Like every other disease or illness, oral cancer has some symptoms associated with it. The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Pain. Pain might be experienced while swallowing. Pain might also be felt in the ears, mouth, and face.
  • Lumpy growth. There might be lumps/bumps, rough spots, or eroded areas on the lips or inside the mouth
  • Disorganization of the teeth or dentures. There might be a change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together as a result of lumpy growth in the mouth.
  • Difficulty in the normal use of the mouth. There might be difficulties speaking, chewing, swallowing, or moving of the tongue and jaw.

There might be loss of feeling in the affected areas, persistent sores refusing to heal, cough, and other difficulties.

These and many more are indications of oral cancer and should be promptly checked if felt.

What To Expect During An Oral Cancer Screening Examination

Absence from home, traveling or relocation are not excuses for not having a periodic oral cancer screening exam. You could always look up “emergency dentist near me” for your screening or if you feel any of the above symptoms.

Normally, during a routine dental exam, a dentist in Peoria will conduct an oral cancer screening exam as every dentist should. But during a screening exam, your dentist will specifically feel for irregular lumps in your neck, face, and oral cavities. Your dentist also looks for signs of sores and discolored tissues in your mouth.

A specialist in family dentistry at Peoria, might also use some special tests in addition to the oral exam to screen for oral cancer. These tests might offer additional benefits over oral exams.

What Can I Do To Reduce My Risks Of Developing Oral Cancer?

Periodic dental exams do not mean you get to see your dentist every day. Therefore, you also have a role to play in maintaining your oral health.

Avoid smoking and use of tobacco products to the best of your ability. Drink in moderation and also limit your exposure to the sun(or use protective lotion).

Finally, conduct self-examinations and alert your dentist anytime you see or feel a symptom of oral cancer.

You just might eliminate the risks of developing oral cancer by doing these.