Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer is relatively common, with more than 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. Treatment is usually successful if the disease is detected in its early stages. Regular dental exams and screenings are the most important thing you can do to prevent complications from oral cancer.
Oral cancer can develop anywhere in the mouth, including the lips, gums, tongue, and cheek. While it affects people of any age and gender, the disease is most commonly diagnosed in men over 40.
There are several factors associated with oral cancer, including:
- Use of tobacco products
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Exposure to UV radiation (e.g., from sun exposure)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
- A history of oral cancer
- Poor oral hygiene
If you relate to any of these factors, it is essential to be extra vigilant about getting regular oral cancer screenings. For all people, regardless of risk factors, it’s still a good idea to get screened every year, because early detection is the most essential part of successful cancer treatment.
Types of Oral Cancer
Many people do not realize that there are several different types of oral cancer. The most common type is squamous cell carcinoma, which accounts for more than 90% of all oral cancers. This type of cancer originates in the flat, thin cells that line the throat and mouth. Some other less common types of oral cancer include:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Minor salivary gland cancer
- Oral Melanoma
This refers to cancer that can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body. Potentially malignant disorders are those conditions that may develop into cancer if left untreated.
On the other hand, benign refers to cancer cells that do not spread. While benign tumors are not life-threatening, they can still cause severe problems if left untreated.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
While it is difficult to detect in the early stages, there are some symptoms that you can look out for. These include:
- A sore or irritated spot in the mouth that does not go away
- Red or white patches on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth
- Bleeding in the mouth
- Pain or numbness in the mouth or lips
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
If you experience any of these symptoms, see your dentist for an oral cancer screening right away.
Screening for Oral Cancer
The first step in the oral cavity screening tests is to go over your medical and dental history. It is important to inform us about any risk behaviors or factors you may have for the disease or if there have been any recent changes in your health. This will better help us assess your risk level.
Next, we will examine your mouth, head, and neck, looking for any signs of abnormal tissue growth. Abnormal tissue differs from normal tissue because it may have red or white patches, sores, or lumps. We may also feel your lymph nodes to see if they are enlarged. If anything suspicious is found, we will refer you for further testing.
Types of Screenings
Two main types of tests can be used to diagnose oral cancer: biopsy and brush cytology.
A biopsy is a procedure in which a small tissue sample is removed and examined for signs of cancer. This is the best way to get an accurate diagnosis.
Brush cytology is a less invasive way of oral cancer screening. In this procedure, a small brush is used to collect cells inside your mouth. These cells are then examined for signs of cancer. While brush cytology is not as accurate as a biopsy, it can be a useful oral cancer screening tool, particularly for people at high risk for the disease.
Oral Cancer Screening in Morristown, NJ
Symptoms of oral cancer can be difficult to detect in the early stages. That’s why it’s so important to get a regular oral cancer screening, even if you don’t have any risk factors for the disease. At Dental Group of Morristown, we offer screenings for our comprehensive dental care services. We will work with you to create a personalized cancer treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.