Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer is a term that describes the largest group of cancers that affect the head and neck region. It can start just about anywhere inside the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, and near the entrance of the throat. Oral cancer is a serious condition that, if not found and treated in the earliest stages, can be fatal. However, the earliest stages are often difficult to detect. This often means that the condition is not detected until it has worsened, making successful treatment more difficult. Over 40,000 Americans are diagnosed every year, and only just over half of those diagnosed live past 5 years. At Olson Family Dental, we perform oral cancer screenings as a part of your regular dental exams.
Are You at Risk for Oral Cancer?
There are a few different factors that can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. While some factors are out of your control, there are some that you can take action with to help lower your risk. Risk factors for oral cancer include:
What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
There are some different symptoms that can point toward oral cancer. Knowing what to look for can help you to detect when something is wrong and make an appointment faster. Symptoms include:
How is Oral Cancer Diagnosed?
At every routine dental exam, an oral cancer screening is performed. Along with inspecting the condition of your teeth and your gums, we also take a close look at the soft tissues in your mouth, checking for unusual growths and other abnormalities. If we find anything, a closer look is needed. This exam involves both a closer visual exam as well as dental X-rays. We may also perform a soft tissue biopsy. With a soft tissue biopsy, we remove a small portion of the abnormality for closer examination under a microscope. A biopsy is a useful tool for diagnosing or ruling out, the presence of oral cancer. Should the cells be determined to be cancerous or precancerous, we can then recommend you for further treatment. Early detection of oral cancer enables you to get the treatment you need right away, greatly increasing your chances of restoring your health and your quality of life. For more information, and to schedule your next dental exam, call Olson Family Dental today at (203) 663-3316.