Oral Cancer Screening
Palo Alto, CA
The word “cancer” can turn someone's life upside down and is the scariest thing someone can tell you. Not paying attention to symptoms of oral cancer can be the difference between healing and losing the battle. Here at Palo Alto Oral Health, we take our responsibility of helping you prevent oral cancer very seriously by performing a thorough visual examination of the oral cavity when you come in for your regular dental checkups. Screenings for oral cancer should be conducted in order for the dentist to detect conditions that could lead to oral cancer. The screening's objective is to spot any early signs of oral cancer, so that treatment can begin and thus cure it early on.
Our dentists, Shiv Sharma DDS and Christina Lin DDS, at Palo Alto Oral Health will include this screening as part of your normal oral examination appointment. Or we may seek out more testing if an area looks suspicious in the mouth.
The Purpose for Oral Cancer Screenings
An oral cancer screening will be used to identify any abnormalities in the oral cavity early enough to be treatable and removed.
When a risk involving oral cancer presents itself, a screening will likely be warranted. Many of the risks involved with oral cancer include chewing or smoking tobacco, family history of cancer, alcohol consumption, any prior diagnosis of cancer, or sun exposure leading to lip cancer.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer affects anything inside the oral cavity including the lips, cheeks, throat, tongue, gums, hard tissue, floor, and roof of the mouth. As with any other cancer, early detection can increase the likelihood of successfully treating the life-threatening disease.
Some of the most common signs of oral cancer are:
|A sore that doesn't heal in two weeks
|A persistent sore or scratchy throat
|Red, white, or dark patches that do not go away in two weeks
|Bleeding in the gums or another area of the mouth
|Bumps and lumps anywhere in the mouth
|Rough or crusty spots in the lips or gums
|Numbness or loss of feeling in the neck, mouth, or face
|Soreness of the face
|The sense that something is stuck in the back of the throat
|Difficulty swallowing or biting down
|Changes in the way the bite feels
|Loose fitting dentures
The problem with some of these symptoms is that they are similar to other less severe conditions. Jaw pain or an earache can be linked to many other diseases including temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), loose-fitting dentures, and changes in the way the bite feels can be the result of bone reduction, and periodontal disease could cause bleeding in the mouth.
We will identify many of these symptoms, but it is essential that you let us know if any of these signs concern you and we will monitor you more closely.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Oral cancer can affect anyone at any age, but certain risk factors could increase your chances of developing this disease. These risk factors include:
|Smoking or chewing tobacco
|Genetics or family history of oral cancer
|Exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun
|HPV or human papillomavirus
According to public data, more than 25 percent of all oral cancers happen to people who are not smokers and only drink alcohol occasionally. In recent years, the amount of oral cancer has risen significantly. However, there is no clear explanation as to why.
Oral Cancer Screening Limitations
Like many other screening types, there will be limitations involved in an oral cancer screening. Some limitations may include the need for further tests, knowing that not all cancers are detectable.
Oral Cancer Screening Arrangement
Arranging for an oral cancer screening is not difficult at all. The screening will likely happen during your regularly scheduled dental checkup.
The Simple Process of an Oral Cancer Screening
As your dentist conducts your examination, they will look over your entire mouth inside and out and note any abnormal sores or discolored patches. They will also conduct a physical touch of the oral tissue to rule out any lumps or bumps.
Once the oral cavity has been looked over, they will feel the throat to rule out any lumps. From there, they will determine the need for any further testing.
Depending on what the dentist finds, they may request further testing beyond the initial oral cancer screening. A couple of tests that may be conducted include the use of screening dyes.
The first is a blue rinse dye that you will swish in your mouth at the beginning of your exam. If any abnormalities concerning cells appear, then they will turn blue in color. The other test is a screening light where a light will be shined in your mouth and will turn good tissue dark and bad tissue white.
Outcome of the Oral Cancer Screening
When, and if, any abnormalities are discovered, the dentist will schedule a biopsy to confirm their suspicions. This will involve a sample of the area being taken for testing in a laboratory to rule out the presence of cancer cells.
The dentist will also schedule a follow-up to go over the results of the biopsy. They will then decide if any further course of treatment will be needed.
Oral Cancer Treatment
Oral cancer can be treated with radiation and chemotherapy. Surgery is also an option, depending on the area affected and the severity of the disease.
As with other types of cancer, early detection is imperative, and this is why we perform routine visual examinations of every part of your mouth and lips during your checkups. Moreover, quitting bad habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol in excess, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can help you prevent getting oral cancer.
One of our primary goals here at Palo Alto Oral Health is to keep you healthy and free of disease with education and regular visits. Having an oral cancer screening can make a big difference in early detection. If you around Palo Alto and have any concerns about oral cancer or are suffering from any symptoms of the condition, please call us at Palo Alto Oral Health at (650) 321-9693 immediately.