To shed light on oral cancer, in this post we explain what it is and what you can expect during an oral cancer screening.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is a type of cancer, which is an uncontrollable growth of cells that damages vital tissue. Oral cancer can occur in both your oral cavity (lips, inside of your cheek, gums, teeth, the floor of your mouth beneath your tongue, the front part of your tongue, and the roof of your mouth) and your oropharynx (back of your tongue, tonsils, and the area where the tongue attaches to the floor of your mouth). Your risk of developing oral cancer is increased if:
- You are male
- You are over 50 years old
- You have a family history of cancer
- You experience frequent and prolonged sun exposure
- You consume alcohol excessively
- You have the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV
- You are a tobacco user (smoking or dipping)
What Should I Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening?
There are two types of exams done when screening for oral cancer at our dental office: visual and physical.
- Visual Exam
- Physical Exam
First, we will look for abnormalities in your neck, lips, face, and even the inside of the nose and oral cavity. We are looking for asymmetries, bumps, swellings, ulcerations, or unusual patches of color. We will look in the back of your mouth and ask you to say “ahh” so areas in the throat such as the tonsils are made easier to see. Additionally, we’ll examine your gums, inside your cheeks, underneath your tongue, and on the roof of your mouth.
Next, we will feel your head, cheeks, jaw, chin, and oral cavity to check for any masses or nodules. Applying slight pressure to these sites will help us determine if there is any pain or abnormal growth in these locations. Moreover, a special tool called a nasopharyngolaryngoscope, which is a fiber optic camera that is fed through the nose to the throat, allows us to look at your larynx and pharynx for signs of oral cancer.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
We recommend regularly checking yourself at home for the following abnormalities in your mouth, lips, or neck area:
- Red or white patches
- Unexplained bleeding
- A sore that won’t go away
- A lump, rough spot, crust, thickening, or small eroded area
You may also experience:
- Ear pain
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing, chewing, or moving your tongue and jaw
- Shifting of your teeth so they do not fit together when your mouth is closed
- A persistent sore throat
Schedule Your Appointment Today!
If you notice any of the above red flags, we are here to help. Contact us to schedule a checkup and oral cancer screening.Contact Us