Oral Cancer Screening
The goal with oral cancer screening is to identify cancer early, when there is a greater chance for a cure.
At Marion Dental Associates, we are on the lookout for oral cancer every time we look in your mouth. During an oral exam, you can expect an examination of your head and neck area, and the soft tissues of the mouth including the tongue, inside of the lips and cheeks, and the floor and roof of the mouth to check for red or white patches or mouth sores. Using gloved hands, your dentist might also feel the tissues in your mouth to check for lumps or other abnormalities.
Many people have abnormalities in their mouths, with the great majority being noncancerous. An oral exam can’t determine which sores are cancerous and which are not. If an unusual sore is found, further testing to determine its cause will be discussed. The only way to know for sure whether a person has oral cancer is to remove some of the abnormal cells and test them for cancer in a procedure called a biopsy.
Who Should Have Oral Cancer Screening
People with a high risk of oral cancer are more likely to benefit from oral cancer screening (though studies haven’t clearly proved this). Factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer include:
- Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff, among others
- Heavy alcohol use
- Previous oral cancer diagnosis