ORAL CANCER SCREENINGS PERFORMED AT OUR OFFICE
Close to 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the sixth most common cancer this year. Oral or pharyngeal cancer, causing over 8,000 deaths, killing somewhere around 1 person per hour, per day. Of those 40,000 freshly diagnosed cases, less than half are cured. The death rate for oral cancer is greater than that of other cancers we hear about frequently, because it is customarily diagnosed in later stages. These figures have not greatly diminished in decades.
Oral cancer may be genetically inherited. However, if you are a smoker, spit tobacco user, too much exposure to sunlight and exorbitant alcohol consumer, you may increase the chance of being diagnosed with this type of cancer. Other factors such as lip or cheek biting habit and ill-fitting dentures also amplify the risk of developing oral cancer. The most common oral cancer sites are the tongue, floor of the mouth and soft palate. Oral cancer may also be detected on the lips, cheeks or gums.
You are the most significant component in an early diagnosis. An annual screening for oral cancer is crucial. You should always contact your doctor or dentist immediately, if you notice something out of the ordinary, developing around your mouth, neck or head. Our office offers a free oral cancer examination when you come to visit us for a routine dental check-up.
We look for certain warning signs and conduct a thorough palpating (feeling) for lumos or irregular tissue changes in your mouth, head and neck. With your consent, we will biopsy any suspected areas, update and advise you on the results and proper treatment required to treat the affected area.
A regular 6-month dental check-up is crucial to your well-being. Nevertheless, it is always keen to perform self-examination to look for early warning signs between your annual screenings. Anything out of the ordinary, such as a lump that increases in size, a sore that doesn’t heal within two weeks and changes in the appearance of soft tissue, should never be ignored.
Other early warning signs are persistent bleeding from the throat or mouth, difficulty swallowing, constant hoarseness and numbness anywhere in the mouth. To perform your own oral cancer examination, vigilantly start in one area of your mouth and consistently follow a pattern of observation and palpation.
Helpful self-examination tips: 1. Face and neck: With the use of a mirror and your nose as the dividing line, look for lumps or swellings that appear on only one side. See if there are any size or color changes in moles or other growths. With your fingers, press the sides and front of your neck, feeling for lumps or tenderness.
2. Lips: Pull your lip down and up to observe for any soreness or color changes. Run your lip between your thumb and forefinger, feeling for lumps or changes in texture. 3. Cheeks, roof of the mouth, floor of the mouth, tongue, and gums: Look for red, white or dark patches or open sores.
Feel for lumps and bumps. Oral cancer is manageable if detected in the early stages. With early cognizance and immediate treatment, survival rates increase significantly. If you detect the early warning signs discussed above, it is crucial that you call or see us immediately.