What is Oral Cancer Screening and How Does It Work?

What is Oral Cancer Screening and How Does It Work?

In dentistry, people are fond of conversations that involve dental decay, tooth extractions, and root canal therapy. While all those are crucial concepts of dental care they are not exclusive. Many oral problems exist in dental care, a of which can significantly affect your overall health.

Oral cancer, for example, is a very common dental problem, that has claimed many lives over the years. Unfortunately, many patients succumb to oral cancer because they lack awareness of oral cancer screening services that are easily available at a dentist near them.

What Is Oral Cancer Screening?

It is a test done by dentists in North Houston to check the mouth for the presence of cancerous tissues of precancerous cells. This test is not necessarily conducted on patients who have cancer. The test aims to check with certainty whether the suspected tissues are cancerous or not.

Before a dentist in North Houston TX would ever recommend a cancer screening for your mouth, there must have been a cause for alarm that necessitated the recommendation. Usually, the attending dentist will conduct a regular dental exam to examine the state of your mouth. When there is a slight indication of the possibility of cancer, then your dentist will commend a screening exam to ascertain that you are free from it.

How Does Cancer Screening Work?

In modern dentistry, a few strategies are helping dentists make the best out of the cancer screening services for the mouth. The goal isn’t to just test for cancer, but to spot it and treat it before it progresses and spreads to other parts of the body. The strategies used in cancer screening for the mouth include:

  • Personalized dental care – once your dentist determines that you have a high risk of getting or cancer, he/she determines personalized care for you. This means studying your family history and your genes, as well as taking random tests to check for any anomalies.
  • More precision during screening tests – a physical exam is nowhere close to sufficient when it comes to determining the presence of cancer. Many different tests may need to be conducted to properly detect any cancerous cells. The goal is to avoid any misdiagnosis that may lead to undertaking unnecessary treatments. Some of the tests include:
    • Biopsies
    • CT scans
    • Colonoscopies
  • Genetic and genomic tests – they are test conducted after an anomaly has been detected in your mouth. It is a new frontier in oral cancer screenings that can help predict the behavior of the precancerous cells.

Which Symptoms Are Linked To Oral Cancer?

During the dental exam, the dentist will be on the lookout for any anomalies in your mouth. Funding them does not automatically mean that you have cancer. This is why a screening exam is necessary, to help clarify the findings of the dentist with certainty. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Mouth sores – they may appear similar to canker sores, but they are often different.
  • White patches on your gum tissue and tongue – these can be notices right below your teeth, on the roof of your mouth, or the floor of your mouth and tongue.
  • Tumor-like swelling – whether it is painful or not, a tumor-like swelling can cause a dentist to want to probe further to get answers.
  • Sores and flakes on the lips – this can be a sign of lip cancer.
  • Soreness and hoarseness of the throat.

The Risk Factors of Oral Cancer

All this information can overwhelm you, to think that you may have cancer to battle. However, it is not every day that patients go to dental facilities for oral cancer screening. Indeed, some patients are high-risk when it comes to this oral problem than others. Some of the factors can increase your risk of getting mouth cancer include:

  • Excessive exposure to sunlight – if you live in hot weather areas and love to bask in the sun, you may have an increased risk for cancer of the lips. This is especially if you do not apply sunscreen to your face and body when going out.
  • Alcohol consumption – it is not only your liver that is at risk of damage when you are a heavy consumer of alcohol. Your throat and lips can also get cancer because of alcohol intake.
  • Tobacco usage – smokers, sniffers, and chewers of tobacco are all at high risk of oral cancer.
  • Family history
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