How Does A Dentist Do Oral Cancer Screening?

How Does A Dentist Do Oral Cancer Screening?

Feb 01, 2021

The oral cancer screening procedure is fast and safe. Like many procedures, it is painless. You will not need to come with someone to drive you home because there is no sedation used. It can be conducted during your regular dental visits for exams and cleanings.

The dentist will thoroughly examine your mouth, looking for early signs of mouth cancer. He will also inspect your skull and neck for any lumps, which can indicate a form of cancer spread. In most cases, he will use his hands to feel the tissues in your mouth to confirm no abnormalities.

If the dentist notices some signs of the condition, he may suggest other tests for confirmation. One of the common tests involves the use of a special liquid that your dentist will ask you to rinse your mouth with and spit. If the liquid color turns blue, it might be a major indicator you have oral cancer. Some dentists use special lights during these screenings. Whichever the approach, they are all safe and effective.

If you are diagnosed with oral cancer, don’t panic. Being diagnosed with mouth or tongue cancer is not a death sentence. If it is detected early, there is a huge chance of treatment.

Oral Cancer Treatments

We all know cancer does not have a cure. However, that does not mean everyone who is diagnosed with it dies of it. We have heard thousands of persons who have conquered and are cancer-free. The condition is often treated with a combination of therapies and surgeries. Here are the most common treatments for oral cancer:

Neck Dissection

If cancer has spread to the neck, a neck dissection surgery is conducted to remove it.

Tumor Resection

If you have a tumor in your mouth, surgery is used to remove it, plus the surrounding tissues.

Glossectomy

If your tongue is affected by cancer, this surgery will remove the affected parts or the entire tongue. Don’t panic, though. The removed tongue can always be replaced with a fully functional synthetic tongue.

Mandibulectomy

If your jaw is affected by the infection, this surgery is used to remove the affected parts.

Mohs Micrographic Surgery

This surgery is for patients who have lip cancer.

Side Effects of Oral Cancer Treatment

As we all know, undergoing cancer therapies is not a walk in the park. It has some side effects that may affect your day to day activities. However, those side effects are much less than what a patient faces if he allows cancer to spread without seeking medical attention. These side effects include:

  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Lack of taste

The severity varies, but you are likely to experience one or more of the named side effects. The type of cancer and the stage of the infection usually affects the severity of the treatment side effects.

Risk Factors

Unfortunately, oral cancer has been on the rise in the recent past. There is still not a concrete explanation for the spike in the number of cases. However, with the increase, it means most of us are at risk. Still, there are some people at a higher risk than others. Some of the most common risk factors include:

  • Smoking and chewing tobacco products. This increases the risk of oral cancer and lung cancer, gum disease, and halitosis.
  • Excessive intake of alcohol
  • Any person diagnosed with cancer before or coming from a family with a history of cancer is at a higher risk.
  • Anyone who has not got the HPV vaccine: HPV has been identified as the leading cause of oral cancer, and that’s why it is crucial to get the vaccine.

Prevention

Even though the disease is on the rise, you can still do some things to decrease your risk of developing the disease. These precautionary actions include:

  • Get the HPV vaccine
  • Avoid taking alcohol
  • Quit smoking and chewing tobacco products
  • Get regular oral cancer screenings.
  • Monitor the changes in your mouth and contact your dentist if you notice signs of oral cancer.

James M. Fieldhouse DDS

You can count on us for regular oral cancer screenings and common dental procedures such as dental exams, cleanings, whitening, and implants. Please book an appointment now and let us help you.

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