ORAL CANCER SCREENING
Most patients do not realize that a normal dental visit can save their lives. When we first see you, a complete oral exam is conducted to rule out any cause for concern regarding cancerous lesions.
About 85% of the cancers in the head and neck comprise of oral cancers. Therefore, screening for such lesions is imperative.
In cases of oral cancer, the spread of it propagates through lymph vessels, known as metastasis. Common areas of cancer occur in the tongue, lips, cheeks, floor of the mouth, and hard and soft palate. According to the American Cancer Society, men have a greater chance of developing oral cancer than women.
Causes of Oral Cancer
· Tobacco products have shown to be a prime contributor to oral cancer, in the form of smoking, dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco.
· Family history of oral cancers
· Sun exposure can cause oral cancers such as the lips, particularly in light skinned people.
· High intake of alcohol
· Individuals with HPV can be at risk of oral cancers by sexual transmission.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
· Persistent irritations or sores
· Change of color of the skin
· Swelling or lumps
· Red or white patches
· Difficulty performing ordinary motions such as, swallowing, speaking, chewing, or moving the tongue
· Bleeding from the mouth
· Pain may ensue along with numbness and tenderness
· Growth of soft tissue resulting in inability to place dentures
· Thickening of tissue and small eroded areas
· Trouble performing daily functions, such as chewing, speaking, swallowing and jaw movement
Screening and diagnosis for Oral Cancer
Our dentists at Peach Smiles, Affordable dentist in Lawrenceville are skilled in detecting sores and lesions that may be pre-cancerous or cancerous. There are several ways in which we screen for oral cancer.
· Tongue: Placing a gauze on the tongue and shifting it side to side while looking for any suspicious lesion, such as red, white or lumpy areas.
· Lips and cheeks: With a finger, we will roll it around the lips and cheeks to check for lesions.
· Floor of the mouth: To check to floor of the mouth, we will place two fingers at the top of the floor and using the other hand push from the bottom. This will allow us to notice abnormalities.
· Hard palate: With a finger, we will look for softness and red and white lesions.
· Neck: The neck contains lymph nodes that can be a tale-tale sign of infection or potential cancer. By rubbing the neck near the node areas, we can look for abnormal lumps on them.
· Salivary glands and thyroid gland: They can be palpated to determine any abnormalities.
· Tonsil: The tonsils can be visually seen by depressing the tongue with a dental mirror and make you say “ahhh.”
If any suspicious lesion is seen, we refer our patients to specialists that can help further diagnose and treat the lesions. Methods used to diagnose:
· CT scan
· PET scan
Preventive measures for Oral Cancer
· Remove tobacco usage from daily lifestyle
· Decrease exposure to sunlight and use sun tan lotion
· Avoid excessive alcohol intake
· Eat a balanced diet containing Vitamin A, C, E, fruits and vegetables
· Attend annual physicals and dental appointments every six months
If you have any questions about Oral Cancer, please call Peach Smiles, the affordable dentist in Lawrenceville at 770-609-6620