Oral cancer screening is a crucial part of dental care in which the dentist examines to identify any precancerous or cancerous signs in your mouth. While it can sound scary, this is an oral check of the mouth and surrounding areas that dentists perform during routine visits to identify cancer early and arrest it when there is still a chance for cure.
Who should go for Oral Screening for Cancer?
The National Cancer Institute states that this cancer is less common in women than men and occurs in adults at any age. However, it occurs mostly in adults aged between 75 and 84 years.
However, certain people can benefit from screening for oral cancer, including:
- People who use tobacco
- Previous cancer history
- People who use alcohol/tobacco products
- If you have been increasingly exposed to the sun, this increases the risk of lip cancer
It is vital that you get oral cancer screenings because, as the years elapse, more people are being diagnosed with oral cavity cancer and other cancers, such as laryngeal and oropharyngeal cancer. However, according to the American Dental Association, early diagnosis can help reduce health problems related to oral cavity cancer treatment.
Process of Oral Cancer Screen
Screening for this type of cancer is relatively simple and does not require any special preparations.
The first thing that will happen if you go for a test is that the dentist will look at your mouth’s inside for red and white patches. The dentist will also examine parts of your head and neck, including the throat and feel tissues, to check any abnormalities and lumps.
Sometimes, additional tests will be done, such as oral cancer screening dye, which involves rinsing the mouth with the blue dye. Cancerous cells may appear blue after taking up the dye. Another additional test is the cancer screening light in which normal tissue is dark while abnormal or cancerous tissues appear white.
Apart from the physical checks, other symptoms that cause alarm is the immobility of tissues that are typically mobile and painful swellings. Note that dentures have to be taken out during screening for efficiency.
Further Oral Cancer Tests
If your dentist notices unusual signs, there are steps that have to be taken. Under these circumstances, he will schedule an appointment soon-probably after some weeks. During this appointment, they may check if anything has changed. However, there are further tests that may be done, including:
Biopsy. A biopsy procedure involves the removal of sample cells for lab testing. The test helps determine if there are cancer cells present. If your dentist cannot perform the biopsy, you will be referred to specialists in oral cancer diagnosis.
Is There a Cure?
According to the American Cancer Society, it is possible to beat oral and oropharyngeal cancer if detected early enough before the cells grow out of control. There are various treatment choices that can be used depending on test results, the type you have, and the stage in which it is.
Cancer treatments are either:
- Systematic. Systematic treatment aims to control or treat cancer cells that may have grown and traveled around the body. The methods used include injections, oral medications, and immunotherapy.
- Local. Local treatment means that cancer treatment is localized to a single area in the body. The methods used include surgery and radiation.
Sometimes, patients are treated through a combination of these treatment types to ensure that the treatment is effective. It would be best to work together with the treatment team to ensure that you are getting wholesome treatment that will steer you back to good health.
Oral cancer screening may be scary. However, it is part of the periodic dental exam, and it is a precautionary type of diagnosis that can rescue lives.