Oral Cancer Screening: The lifesaving decision

Did you realize that a trip to the dentist can actually save your life?

During the process of your cleaning and exam, the dental professionals who treat you will be looking for signs of oral cancer, which can be deadly if it is not treated promptly. Oral cancers can occur on the lips, gums, tongue or any of the other soft tissues that line the mouth.

The dentist is able to spot a variety of signs and symptoms that may indicate a malignancy. These include lumps in the soft tissues of the mouth, white patches and sores that don’t heal as expected. You may also be asked about other potential causes for concern, such as difficulty swallowing or thickening of the tongue. 

Oral cancers can occur on the lips, gums, tongue or any of the other soft tissues that line the mouth.

If one of these possible tumors is found during the course of your exam, a biopsy may be recommended for you. When a malignancy is identified, treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

Oral cancer prevention is yet another compelling reason to make sure you are scheduling your dental appointments every six months. When oral cancer is found in its earliest stages, patients have a much greater likelihood of good outcomes. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, the five-year survival rate for oral cancer is only 45 percent. However, the rate jumps to 80-90 percent for patients diagnosed in the earliest stages of the disease.

Not only can oral cancer be fatal if it spreads, it can also cause disfiguring injuries to the face and jaw. Timely diagnosis and treatment can prevent this negative outcome, too.

Certain factors may put you at increased risk for oral cancer, and you may be educated on these topics at the dentist’s office, too. Smoking cessation is a major one, as tobacco use is associated with increased rates of oral cancer.

If you do undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment for oral cancer or some other variety of head and neck cancer, the dentist may also be involved in reconstructive treatments, coordinating with other specialists such as oral surgeons and prosthodontists.

Be sure to get your routine dental exams every six months, as recommended. Doing so may be a life-saving decision if your dentist is able to spot oral cancer in an early, treatable stage.

Contact our experienced team of dentists and specialists today to schedule an oral cancer screening or check-up.

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