Do You Need an Oral Cancer Screening?

 

Houston oral cancer screeningOral cancer can be effectively treated and even cured if caught early. But diagnosing the disease can be tough considering that warning signs are difficult to detect. In an effort to find bumps, growths, or lesions as early as possible, most dentists include an oral cancer screening in their routine exams.

Consider the Risk Factors

Your biannual dental exams are especially important if you have one or more of the risk factors associated with oral cancer. Be sure to keep your dentist informed about the following risk factors should they apply to your lifestyle.

  • Previous oral cancer diagnoses

    – Patients who have had any form of oral cancer in the past are at risk of recurrence. If you start visiting a new dentist, be sure to disclose past diagnoses.

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)

    – HPV can cause oral cancer, in addition to other conditions. For some age demographics, HPV vaccines are available.

  • Cigarette, cigar, pipe, chew, or other tobacco use

    – Avoid starting to smoke or chew altogether. Or consider quitting if you already smoke or chew. Tobacco use is also linked to oral cancer.

  • Alcohol use

    – Even drinking one beverage per day increases your chances of developing oral cancer. Limit your intake as much as possible for your best chance of remaining cancer-free.

  • Sun exposure

    – If you work or spend extended periods of time outside, remember to use chap stick with SPF protection. Sun damage can cause lip cancer.

What to Expect During a Cancer Screening

Dentists examine the head, neck, and mouth, both internally and externally, for bumps, growths, lesions, skin color or texture changes, and other abnormalities. Parts of the exam may include:

  • Palpating the neck, jaw, thyroid, and lymph nodes

    – The dentist will carefully check the lymph nodes as they’re often responsible for spreading oral cancer.

  • Surveying the lips, cheeks, gums, and tongue

    – Oral cancer most often develops at the back of the tongue. The dentist may use gauze to shift the tongue to thoroughly check the surrounding areas.

  • Checking eye movement and vocal vibrations

    – This step is less common in an oral cancer screening but may be utilized by some dentists.

  • Administering ViziLite Plus treatment

    – Royal Dental uses ViziLite Plus on patients who are at high risk for developing oral cancer. After patients rinse with the ViziLite solution, the dentist shines a specialized light in the patient’s mouth to search the oral tissue for white spots, indicating potentially cancerous cells.

Schedule An Appointment

Preventative care is the most effective way to stay healthy. Feel free to contact Royal Dental for an appointment.

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