When Should You Get Screened for Oral Cancer?
Do you constantly dread getting oral cancer because of what you have seen around you? There is nothing wrong with taking an extra step to maintain good health. The initial step should be to learn more about oral cancer and the importance of early screenings.
What Is Oral Cancer?
It is any cancer that affects the oral cavity and the surrounding areas. At Canton Crossing Dental, we have a list of different oral cancers that can affect patients, including the following:
- Cancers of the lips
- Tongue cancer
- Cancer of the cheeks
- Cancer of the floor of the mouth
- Cancer of the hard and soft palate
- Sinuses cancer
- The pharynx or throat cancer
What Is Oral Cancer Screening?
It is a test that dentists conduct to check your oral cavity for any precancerous cells. Oral cancer screenings in Baltimore are not necessary for patients diagnosed with oral cancer. Instead, they are tests for people who want to know whether they may have oral cancer.
How Do You Know You Have Oral Cancer?
An oral cancer screening near you may be the best way to find out whether you may have oral cancer. However, you can also identify a few chances in your oral cavity that can point to mouth cancer. Oral cancer often appears as a sore or tumor in the mouth area that does not go away. The persistence of the sore can be the biggest indicator of mouth cancer. However, other signs and symptoms may be present depending on the type of mouth cancer you have. They include:
- Sore throat and a hoarse voice
- A growth or lump inside your mouth
- Pain in your mouth
- Ear pain
- Persistent migraine headaches
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- A white or reddish velvety patch in your oral soft tissues
- Unexplained bleeding in your mouth
- Numbness or a tingling sensation in your oral cavity
- Teeth beginning to shift – or dentures fitting abnormally
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Many dentists in Baltimore, MD, are yet to identify the specific underlying cause of mouth cancer. However, several factors are linked to increasing the risk of oral cancer. They include the following:
- Smoking and other tobacco usages
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Genetics – if other people in your family have had oral cancer before
- A previous diagnosis of any other cancer of the body – the cancerous cells can reappear in your mouth.
- The human papillomavirus (HPV) – is particularly common in people who indulge in oral sex.
- Aging – the older you get, the higher the risk of getting cancer.
- Excessive sun exposure
Do You Need Oral Cancer Screening?
So far, there is no evidence that oral cancer screening has helped overcome cancer. However, patients with a high risk of getting oral cancer significantly benefit from regular oral cancer screenings. Besides, if you do not regularly visit your dentist for dental exams, you may never realize that you are at a high risk of mouth cancer. If you are healthy, you may need to liaise with your dentist regarding your need for oral cancer screening. Many medical experts still disagree if it is necessary to screen for cancer when there is no indication that you are at risk of getting it.
How Often Do You Need Oral Cancer Screening?
These screening tests are not needed so frequently. Dentists usually recommend getting screened once annually. However, it depends on different factors. For example, if you are at a high risk of getting oral cancer, you may need more screenings in a year than the average person. High-risk patients should undergo cancer screening every six months or so.
Can Oral Cancer Screening Cure Mouth Cancer?
Cancer is a serious and often life-threatening health problem. oral cancer, to be specific, has claimed many lives in the USA alone. Unfortunately, many people succumb to oral cancer, yet dental experts can easily treat the problem. The only catch is that you must detect cancer in its very early stages. It is the reason oral cancer screening is vital.
However, screenings do not treat or cure diseases. They are simply diagnostic tests that help evaluate your oral health so the dentist can make a calculated decision about your treatment options.