Oral Cancer Screenings

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What to Expect During Regular Oral Cancer Screenings

You probably already know that it’s important to visit your dentist every six months or a checkup. These regular visits help your dentist identify cavities, gum disease, and any other dental issues you may be experiencing. At Thrive Dental Studio, we recommend that our patients receive regular oral cancer screenings. 

Why It’s Important to Get Screened for Oral Cancer

Although it’s unnerving to think about getting cancer, you should be aware that the risk of oral cancer is very real. In fact, one in sixty men and one in one hundred forty women will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. As with all cancers, the earlier it’s detected and treated, the better the long term survival rate. If you have any of the following oral cancer risk factors, it’s even more important to be screened regularly by your oral exam dentist:

  • Tobacco Smoking
  • Heavy Drinking
  • Previous Cancer
  • HPV Infection
  • Excess Weight
  • Being Over 50
  • Exposure to UV Light
  • Certain Genetic Syndromes

Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can be deadly if it’s not diagnosed and treated early. That’s why it’s so important to pay close attention to your mouth, lips, face, and neck area. If you notice any of the following signs, do not hesitate to contact us at Thrive Dental Studio to schedule an oral cancer screening appointment:

  • Swollen areas, lumps, bumps, or rough spots on your lips, gums, or inside your mouth.
  • Patches of red, white, or red and white speckled areas inside the mouth.
  • Unexplained oral bleeding.
  • Pain, tenderness, or numbness in the face, mouth, ears, or neck.
  • Sores on the mouth, neck, or face that don’t heal within a couple of weeks.
  • Difficulty moving your jaw, chewing, swallowing, or speaking.
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
  • Dramatic weight loss that’s unintended.

What Does an Oral Cancer Screening Involve?

An oral cancer screening exam will include an external examination of your head and neck and a thorough exam of the gums, tongue, lips, cheeks, palate, and the floor of your mouth. The dentist will be on the lookout for irregular tissue changes, unusual lumps, and sores.  If the dentist finds anything suspicious, a recommendation will be made for a biopsy, or you’ll be referred to an oral surgeon for a follow-up. 

Oral Cancer Screening Dentist

Benefits of Early Detection of Oral Cancer

Regular oral cancer screenings by your dentist can help detect cancer in its early stages when it’s easier to treat. The 5-year survival rate for oral cancer that’s diagnosed in its early stages is around 85%.  Unfortunately, only around 29% of oral cancers are diagnosed at this stage. If the cancer has spread to surrounding organs, tissues, or regional lymph nodes, the overall 5-year survival rate is 67%. If the oral cancer spreads to distant organs the 5-year survival rate drops to 40%.  

Oral Cancer Treatment Options

If you’re diagnosed with oral cancer, there are several options for treatment, depending upon the stage, location, and your overall health. Oral cancer treatment options include:

  • Surgery to Remove the Tumor or Affected Lymph Nodes.
  • Radiation Therapy (Generally performed after surgery.)
  • Chemotherapy Treatments
  • Targeted Drug Therapy
  • Immunotherapy

Schedule an Oral Cancer Screening Appointment

If you live in Portland, Maine or the surrounding areas, schedule an appointment today with Dr. Dan Figueiredo, DMD at Thrive Dental Studio. During your visit, the doctor will perform a thorough examination of your mouth including your teeth, gums, tongue, palate, neck, and head.  This will include an oral cancer screening. To speed up the process, feel free to complete your patient forms online prior to your appointment. If you have any questions about oral cancer screening or any other dental issue, please call us at 207-305-4200, and we’ll be happy to assist you.