Oral Cancer Screening
An oral cancer screening allows a dentist or doctor to identify cancer cells or precancerous conditions in your mouth. Oral cancer screenings are important for early detection in hopes that cancer can be treated before it causes major damage or spreads to other parts of the body.
Below, our Fremont dentist explains everything you need to know about oral cancer screenings.
How Does an Oral Cancer Exam Work?
Oral cancer screenings are often performed during routine visits. They are non-invasive and often take less than five minutes — here's how they are done.
During the screening, the oral health professional will look closely around your mouth to find abnormalities that may be a sign of cancer.
To help identify problem areas in your mouth, the dentist or doctor may also use a special dye rinse or oral cancer light, like the Velscope® light we use in our office. Both of these can help certain areas of concern stand out better.
If the doctor or dentist finds anything abnormal that could be a concern, they will usually take a small sample of the area. They will then send it to a pathology lab for a closer examination. The results generally take between two and ten days to get back.
At What Age Should You Get an Oral Cancer Screening?
The Oral Cancer Foundation recommends that you start getting oral cancer screenings when you are 18. After that, you should get screened annually.
If you are under 18 and use tobacco or alcohol, you should schedule an exam, regardless of age.
When it comes to cancer screenings, you can never be too careful. The best way to beat cancer is to catch it early.
Why Do You Need An Oral Cancer Exam?
Early detection is key to preventing irreversible damage from cancer. It allows you to start treatment as soon as possible.
While this post is about oral cancer, it isn’t the only cancer you should be screened for. The American Cancer Society provides guidance for you on when you should start screening for other types of cancer if you are at average risk.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Not all patients experience oral cancer the same. Here are some of the most common symptoms.
● A lip, mouth, or throat sore that lasts more than two weeks
● Prolonged white or reddish or white spots spot(s) in your mouth or on your lip(s)
● Loose teeth
● Notable growth or lump in your mouth or on your lip(s)
● Pain when swallowing for more than a week
While there are other reasons these symptoms may be present, none of them should be ignored. Any pain or abnormalities should be addressed.
Risk Factors of Oral Cancer
● Tobacco use
● Heavy alcohol consumption
● High sun exposure
● Human papilloma virus (HPV)
● Auto-immune diseases
Can You Do an Oral Cancer Screening at Home?
You can screen for oral cancer at home, but it’s almost impossible to know if you have cancer for sure unless you are examined and tested by experts.
Keep a close eye out for the symptoms mentioned above, and make an appointment if anything arises.
Oral Cancer Screening in Fremont, CA
If it’s been more than a year since your last oral cancer exam, schedule an appointment today – especially if you fall into an at-risk group of people.
The best way to fight cancer is early detection by frequent screenings.
Contact our office to schedule a screening today!