Oral Cancer Screening: Early Detection Is Key
Oral cancer occurs when cells in the mouth (including tongue, lips, cheeks and throat) grow abnormally. Fortunately, oral cancer can be treated if detected early enough. Westdale Dental encourages patients to schedule regular oral cancer screenings, especially if they are at a higher risk for developing oral cancer. Risk factors for oral cancer include smoking/using tobacco, heavy alcohol use, frequent sun exposure, HPV, being male and being over the age of 40.
Warning signs of oral cancer include:
- Swelling, lumps or thick patches in the mouth/throat
- White or red lesions in the mouth
- Pain or numbness in the mouth
- Sore throat, problems swallowing, or the feeling of a stuck object or lump
- Hoarseness in the throat
It’s imperative to see a health or dental professional immediately if you suspect any of the above signs.
About the Screening
During a typical oral cancer screening, a patient’s health history is first reviewed. Next, the dental or medical professional will closely examine the mouth; including the gums, cheeks, below the tongue, roof/floor and back of the mouth, and throat. He or she will also feel for any problems in areas such as the neck, jaw, lips, around the ears, and major salivary glands. A special light device, such as a VELscope® may also be used to visualize any precancerous or cancerous areas.