Oral Caner Screening

Oral Cancer is a nasty combination of words. It can essentially be divided into two different categories – cancer of the oral cavity and cancer in the oropharynx region. The oral cavity consists of the lips, cheeks, gums, teeth, the roof of the mouth, the floor of the mouth, and the first two-thirds of the tongue. The oropharynx region consists of the tonsils and the base of the tongue. Combined, these cancers make up for about 2.9-percent of all the cancers listed in the United States.

With as many as 9,750 lives who are at risk for this disease, early detection is the key to a better treatment and overall outcome. The survival rate of this disease over 5-years is only 60-percent.

Appearance

So you might be wondering where oral cancer can appear. Oral cancer can appear anywhere from the back of the throat to the lips and everything in between. This includes your cheek lining, lips, gums, tongue, the floor of the mouth, hard palate at the roof of the mouth, and the start of the throat. Any of these places are subject to oral cancer, which is why it is important to have regular dental checkups.

Symptoms

You should always be aware of the symptoms and signs of oral cancer, not to alarm you, but to ensure that you know when something is not right. If these signs do not disappear after two weeks at the most, you need to see your dentist right away to have them checked. The symptoms of oral cancer are:

  • Irritation or sore that doesn’t heal
  • White or red patches
  • Lump, rough spot, crust, thickening, or eroded area
  • Pain, numbness, or tenderness on the lips or in the mouth
  • Change in the way the teeth fit when closing the mouth
  • Difficulties swallowing, chewing, speaking, or moving the tongue or the jaw

Some people often complain about a sore throat, while others complain about feeling as though there is something caught in the back of their throat. Others still have complained of numbness or hoarse change in their voice. If you suspect you might have any of these symptoms relating to oral cancer, you should speak with your dentist as soon as possible, especially if the symptoms persist for two weeks or longer.

Increased Risk

Several pieces of research have dug up information relating to this disease that havens proven the number of factors that likely increase the development of oral cancers. Women are less likely to get oral cancer, research says. In fact, men are twice as likely to develop the disease. Those who drink alcohol excessively or smoke, especially over the age of 50, are the most at risk for these oral cancers.

Another association with throat cancers is the human papillomavirus, or HPV. The rise in throat cancers, in adults, who do not smoke is associated with HPV. These cancers typically develop in unusual places that make them more difficult to detect. These places include the area where the tongue connects to the throat and the folds of the tonsils. People who have HPV-positive cancers have a lower risk of recurrence or even death over those who have HPV-negative. It is essential to get early diagnosis to ensure the best outcomes, and regular dental check-ups and examinations can help detect these cancers early enough to get treatment.

Detection

Early detection is the key to getting the best treatment for oral cancer. Who better to help detect oral cancer than the dentist himself. Your dentist will perform a regular exam and ask you questions about any changes in your medical history or any weird symptoms going on in your mouth.

The dentist will check the oral cavity, which includes everything from the lips to the gums to the front of your tongue. Then, your dentist will examine your throat, including the tonsils and the back section of the tongue. In this case, they can feel around your jaw and neck for any unusual lumps or things that are out of the ordinary.

What now?

If you suspect you have oral cancer, there is no need to panic. Instead, you should relax and let your dentist handle the situation. They won’t know what is going on at first, and they will have to reexamine you at a further date to be sure. Often, this is to give any questionable sites or spots a little longer to heal since some people tend to heal slower than others. If an additional follow-up appointment is needed, your dentist will let you know. You can work together to decide on the best plan for your diagnosis, prevention, and treatment should they be needed.

Prevention

If you are reading this and you want to prevent oral cancer now, then the best thing you can do is understand your risk factors. Men are more likely to get oral cancer as they age. Those who smoke, drink alcohol in excess, or eat a poor diet are more likely to get oral cancer. The best prevention is a change in habits if you fall into the second category. A change in daily habits can decrease your chances of ever developing this cancer.

HPV in certain strains can also put yours at risk for oral cancer. Children who are between 11 and 12 are recommended to be given two doses of an HPV vaccine to help prevent other kinds of cancers as well as oral cancer. The HPV vaccine might help reduce the risks of oral cancer since it helps prevent an initial infection with certain HPV types. These studies are being conducted now to prove the aid of HPV vaccines in preventing oral cancers.

If you have had this type of cancer before, you are more likely to develop cancer a second time. There’s no need to worry, however. All you need to do is keep up those regular checkups and dentist visits.

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