Staying on top of cancer screenings is the best way to catch any cancer concerns early on. Oral cancer can be a deadly issue, so catching it fast is essential to your health. Cancer screenings are conducted by your dentist, but any samples taken may be sent to a lab to be tested by a pathologist.
Detecting Cancer with Screenings
Cancer screenings should happen during every regular hygiene and cleaning appointment, so twice a year. Check with your dentist today to make sure they will evaluate you for any oral cancer.
If you detect anything out of the ordinary with your mouth, especially bumps or sores that do not leave after two weeks, that is when you should schedule a cancer screening with your dentist as soon as possible. Having your cancer treated quickly is of the essence.
What Happens at a Screening?
The dentist will examine your mouth for signs of cancer during your regular exam. If they notice anything out of the ordinary, they will collect a sample, most often through a mouth swab. Your dentist may also use a special diagnostic tool or special screening mouthwash. The testing process shouldn’t hurt at all.
If you go in for a screening outside of your regular exam, be sure to point out the areas you are concerned about to your dentist.
Kinds of Oral Cancer
There are five main kinds of cancer that can occur in the mouth:
- Lip cancer | Most often caused by sun exposure, similar to skin cancer. Often characterized by tumors or sores around or inside the lip that do not leave.
- Gum cancer | Small cancerous tumors or spots on your gums that are often treated without chemotherapy. These spots are either white or red.
- Tongue cancer | Often creates swollen areas or lumps on your tongue or issues with swallowing.
- Throat cancer | A cancer found in your in your throat, voice box, tonsils, or windpipe, often in the form of tumors. Watch for a permanently scratchy voice or a lump in your throat area.
- Jaw cancer | The most rare kind of oral cancer, often caused by a tumor on your jawbone.
If you see any signs of the five kinds of cancer, schedule a screening! If detected, each type of cancer will be treated differently.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can manifest through various symptoms. It’s essential to seek a dental or medical evaluation if you notice:
- White or red patches in the mouth or on the lips.
- Sores that don’t heal within two weeks.
- Swelling or lumps inside the mouth.
- Unexplained oral pain or bleeding.
- Persistent sore throat or feeling of something caught in the throat.
- Difficulty in chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw.
Early detection is crucial for effective treatment.
Treating Oral Cancer
If your dentist has any concerns about oral cancer, your oral swab and any visual results will be sent to a pathologist, to review your swab for cancer. They should also refer you to a dental oncologist. The oncologist will use the information from the pathologist and your dentist to create a treatment plan. This plan will be based on what kind of cancer you have and what stage it is at.
Some kinds of cancer like tongue cancer and gum cancer are treated with a simple surgery if they are not advanced cases. Others, such as jaw cancer, may require radiation, chemotherapy, or a more involved surgery.
Get an Oral Cancer Screening Today!
Vibrant Dental in the Henderson area offers thorough oral cancer screenings during our routine exams or at screening appointments. Preserve your oral health by getting screened and treated today! The sooner oral cancer is caught, the easier and more effective treatments will be. Contact us today for a screening in Las Vegas, Nevada.