What is Oral Cancer Screening: Process, Importance & Risk Factors

What is Oral Cancer Screening: Process, Importance & Risk Factors

Nov 01, 2022

Cancer is among the top life-threatening conditions in medicine. Many people lose their lives due to different types of cancer. As medical experts continue to uncover new approaches to manage and treat the condition, it is your responsibility to remain on your toes with your health. If you can do something to ensure you do not get cancer or can access treatment early, do it.

What is Oral Cancer Screening?

It is a series of tests in dentistry that evaluate the oral cavity for cancerous cells. Oral cancer screening is all about examining the oral features and the surrounding areas for precancerous conditions or any signs of cancer.

What Does Oral Cancer Screening Process Entail?

The screening process first entails a physical examination. The dentist will observe the various features of your oral cavity roughly. The primary goal is to identify any anomalies in your mouth that can point to signs of cancer. This evaluation is thorough enough since the dentist will check the inside of the mouth, the outside, the neck, and the throat. Any abnormalities inconsistent with a healthy mouth may warrant further evaluation.

Tools and Tests Used During Oral Cancer Screening

Sometimes, it is not enough to do a physical evaluation during an oral cancer screening. A family dentist near you may resolve to use different tools and tests for the screening, including the following:

  1. A Gloved Hand – the dentist will wear a glove so (s)he can touch different surfaces of your mouth and throat. Through touch, a dentist can identify hard or soft swellings, which may indicate different dental problems.
  2. A Special Blue Screening Dye – that causes abnormal cells to stand out from the healthy ones. If you have any precancerous cells, they absorb the dye and appear blue, standing out from the healthy cells. The result may dictate further tests like a biopsy to get a more accurate diagnosis.
  3. A Screening Light – can also help the dentist notice the abnormal cells as they appear different from the rest. If all your mouth cells are healthy, they will appear dark when the light hits them. The abnormal cells usually appear whitish.

Why is Oral Cancer Screening Necessary?

One of the things that many people do not understand about oral cancer is that it can be a fatal disease, but it does not have to be. If you are quick to seek help from our dentist in 77024, (s)he can offer treatment to curb the spread and growth of the cancerous cells in your mouth. You do not have to succumb to oral cancer when you can capitalize on the various treatments available. Therefore, oral cancer screening helps you catch your developing cancer in its early stages when there is a good chance of curing it.

Ideally, there is nothing wrong with allowing a family dentist near you to evaluate your mouth’s health. Still, many medical experts disagree on the need for routine oral cancer screenings for healthy patients. They agree that patients over age 20 do not need annual screening tests. Instead, they can consider it valuable once every three or so years. Annual oral cancer screenings are more suitable for people older than 40 years.

However, oral cancer screenings are more valuable when you know you have a high risk of mouth cancer. Some patients are more likely to get oral cancer than others, either due to their genetics, underlying conditions, or lifestyle choices.

What are the Risk Factors for Oral Cancer?

While anyone can get oral cancer at any stage of their lives, it is most common for the following groups of people:

  1. Smoking – people who consume tobacco regularly are 50% more likely to get oral cancer than non-smokers.
  2. A Previous Cancer Diagnosis – the cancerous cells can reappear in your mouth after the initial remission.
  3. Over-exposure to the Sun – UV rays are harmful to the skin, especially if you are not proactive to protect yourself when in direct sunlight. Being out in the sun exposes you to the risk of lip cancer.
  4. A Sexually Transmitted Virus – Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – is usually common in people who engage in oral sex.
  5. Aging – older adults are more likely to get mouth cancer than younger ones.
  6. Excessive Consumption of Alcohol – is one of the reasons for developing cancer.
  7. Genetics or a Family History of Oral Cancer – can also cause mouth cancer.
  8. A Weak Immune System – is usually due to underlying chronic health conditions.

Get Oral Cancer Screening Near You

Are you looking to get oral cancer screening in Houston, 77024? Give us a call or book your oral cancer screening consultation with us at Lynn Alan Palmer DDS today!

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