Like other exams, an oral cancer screening can be done quickly during regular check-ups. The signs of oral cancer can be easy to miss by patients while at home but can still be spotted with the vigilance and knowledge of a professional. Understanding what and how oral cancer may present, look like, or when it can become more likely is the best way to catch it as early as possible. No matter the type or location of cancer, the earlier the detection, the better for everyone involved.
Why Have Oral Cancer Screenings?
Oral cancer doesn’t strike every person or family. Thankfully, there are few ways to know if or when cancer will affect an individual. Without screenings for any health issue, including cancer, the chances of overcoming it become less likely. Several factors can increase the chances of oral cancer, just like other types of cancer, that are important to understand. Like in the lungs, heart, and other major organs, cancer can become more likely to present with certain factors, such as:
- Chewing tobacco
Oral cancer screening tests are simple and painless when supplied by dental professionals. Whether it’s an at-home exam or provided by a dentist during a regular check-up, it can only benefit a patient to know that their mouth is healthy.
Signs to Spot During an At-Home Screening
The time between visible symptoms in the mouth and the spread of cancer through the body can be very short, making it critical to be as aware as possible. Some symptoms to be aware of when doing an at-home screening are:
- White patches (leukoplakia)
- Red patches (erythroplakia)
- Mixed white and red patches (erythroleukoplakia)
- Bleeding or sores that won’t heal (ulcerations)
- Abnormal thickening of oral tissue
- Masses or lumps
How Often Should You Have Oral Cancer Screening?
Like regular cleanings that should be done every six months, screening for cancer should be done by dentists once a year after the patient reaches 18 years of age. Because many activities that dramatically increase the chances of cancer often start between 18 and 21, keeping awareness of the possibility is incredibly important to overall health. For example, men over forty-five are most likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer.
Often enough, confirmed cases of oral cancer are benign and can be dealt with by medical professionals. They can be easy enough to tackle after a diagnosis, but leaving it untreated can be deadly once oral cancer is established. Untreated oral cancer can quickly become malignant and spread to other body parts.
A simple stain test provided by a dentist or knowledgeable self-exams can prevent this. The following steps will help individuals to stay aware of oral health and the potential presentation of oral cancer:
- Remove any dentures or mouthpieces
- Look and feel inside the lips and the front of the gums
- Tilt head back to inspect and feel the roof of the mouth
- Push the cheek out to see its inside surface as well as the back of the gums
- Look at all of the tongue’s surfaces
- Feel for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes (glands) on both sides of the neck and jaw
Greenwood Dental Is Dedicated To Your Health
The professionals at Greenwood Dental are ready to answer your questions, such as “How often should you have an oral cancer screening?” “What should I expect to find between screenings?” and “What do I do after a positive diagnosis?” An oral cancer screening is just as important as any other type of screening, and Greenwood Dental values the health and safety of all of its patients. Call them today at 855.528.3961 to make an appointment to confirm your health and protect your smile.