Oral cancer is a serious condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Unfortunately, many individuals overlook the importance of regular screenings for this disease, which can lead to life-threatening consequences if left unchecked. In this guide, we’ll explore why oral cancer screenings are so critical and highlight what patients can expect during their screening appointments. Whether you’re due for a screening or simply curious about this topic, read on to learn more about how routine check-ups could save your life!
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the tissues of the mouth or throat. It can occur anywhere in the oral cavity, including the lips, gums, tongue, and palate. Oral cancer is most commonly found in people over the age of 40.
There are several risk factors for oral cancer, including smoking, excessive alcohol use, and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. People with certain genetic conditions, such as Fanconi anemia or Xeroderma pigmentosum, are also at increased risk.
Reasons for Regular Oral Cancer Screenings
If you are like most people, you probably don’t think much about oral cancer. But did you know that this disease is on the rise? In fact, the Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer this year alone.
While the risk of developing oral cancer increases with age, anyone can get it. That’s why regular oral cancer screenings are so important. Here are just a few reasons why you should make sure to see your dentist or hygienist for an oral cancer screening at least once a year:
1. Early detection is key- Oral cancer is most treatable when it’s caught in the early stages. During an oral cancer screening, your dentist or hygienist will look for any signs of trouble, including red or white patches in your mouth, lumps or bumps, and soreness that doesn’t go away.
2. It’s quick and easy- An oral cancer screening only takes a few minutes and can be done during your regular dental visit.
3. It could save your life- According to the American Dental Association, one person dies from oral cancer every hour in the United States. But if caught early, the survival rate for oral cancer is 80-90%.
What to Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening
An oral cancer screening is a quick and painless way for your dentist to check for signs of cancer in your mouth. During the exam, your dentist will look for any red or white patches on your tongue, gums, or inside of your cheeks. They will also feel for any lumps or unusual bumps in your neck or jaw area. If anything suspicious is found, your dentist may recommend further testing.
Questions to Ask Your Dentist or Physician
If you are worried about your risk for oral cancer, there are some questions you can ask your dentist or physician during your next appointment.
First, you can ask about your personal risk factors. What factors put you at greater risk for developing oral cancer?
Secondly, you can ask about the signs and symptoms of oral cancer. What should you be looking out for?
And finally, you can ask about the best way to screen for oral cancer. What is the best method for someone in your situation?
Regular oral cancer screenings are essential for early detection and treatment of any potential issues. It is important to take the time to understand your risk factors, get screened at least once a year, and follow up with any additional testing or follow-up appointments needed. As always, it’s best to check in with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your individual health needs. Taking care of yourself now can help prevent future problems that may arise from untreated conditions such as oral cancer.