Oral cancer overview
Oral cancer screenings are just as important as any other cancer screening procedure. Regrettably, in today’s society mouth cancer doesn’t receive the adequate attention it deserves. Even though this type of cancer is just as deadly as any other, it often receives haphazard coverage.
Routine oral cancer screenings are quick and painless. Usually this procedure is performed during your regularly scheduled dental exam. A highly trained dentist and dental hygienist will check all tissues of the mouth and surrounding areas looking for any irregularities that could be signs of mouth cancer. This is a prime reason why it is so important to see your dentist every 6 months.
Who is at risk
The truth is, everyone is vulnerable to oral cancer. Although people older than 40 are the largest group affected, as of recent years mouth cancer symptoms have begun rapidly growing in the youth demographic.
Lastly, we should note that chronic sun exposure and genetics also play a significant role in the development of oral cancer. Many people fail to realize that our lips are just as susceptible to cancer as any other body part, meaning UV exposure in this area should be carefully monitored.
The only medically accurate way to diagnose oral cancer is through laboratory testing. Obviously it’s not practical to do lab work during every visit to the dentist. For this reason, both dentist and dental hygienist are rigorously trained in order to best diagnose patients that display early signs of mouth cancer.
Typically each exam starts with a full visual evaluation. Every bit of tissue that makes up your oral cavity is checked then double-checked for any signs of abnormalities. After the initial visual screening the dentist or hygienist will feel around with a gloved hand to detect any lumps or unusual swelling in and around the mouth.
If during our screening process we observe any abnormalities such as red or white colored patches, unusual lumps, discoloration or sores we will recommend that a biopsy be performed. A biopsy is a quick and simple procedure in which a doctor collects a very minute sample of tissues from the area of concern. Said sample is then sent to the lab for further examination.
I see bumps, lumps, or discoloration. Do I have oral cancer?
Naturally when researching scary diseases such as cancer, people become more aware and concerned about their own health.
Just because you see a lump, bump or some other seemingly unusual area in your mouth doesn’t mean you have mouth cancer. More often than not, such occurrences are totally normal. Unless an area remains affected for more than 2-3 weeks it usually is nothing major. If however, you’ve noticed sores, lumps or other odd things going on for longer than 3 weeks it may be best to seek the advice of a trained professional to rule out symptoms of mouth cancer.
All concerned individuals are encouraged to contact us for more information. At our Park Ridge office we have some of the best and brightest staff available to help you have peace of mind.