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Oral Cancer Screening Shelby Township MI
Oral cancers are various diseases that affect thousands of Americans each year. Although oral cancer may attack all working parts of your mouth, the most common are squamous cell tumors, which are located in the mobile area of your tongue and within the floor of your mouth. At Great Lakes Dentistry, our focus is prevention, and we work hard to ensure your health remains in excellent condition. Besides preventing tooth decay or its loss, we also implement strategies and techniques to limit the risk of serious health concerns, including oral cancer. What is oral cancer screening?
What is oral cancer?
Tumors attacking the oral cavity consist of a diverse group of diseases concerning their course, location, and structure. The symptoms of oral cancer are not very specific, and the first signs may be similar to an ordinary infection, such as aphthae – small sores inside your mouth. The most common cancer diagnosed in the oral cavity is squamous cell carcinoma, which affects the floor of the mouth and the front of the tongue. However, oral cancer can also occur in other areas, such as cheeks, lips, hard and soft palates, sinuses, or even throat.
Often, throat cancer symptoms resemble an upper respiratory tract infection, which unfortunately makes diagnosis and treatment more challenging.
What are some causes of oral cancer?
The primary prevention of oral cancer is, you guessed it, regular dental checkups and avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol, and excessive sunbathing. Proper oral hygiene and sexual behaviors are as important since HPV can be transmitted during unprotected oral sex. Preventive treatments should be primarily implemented among people with a family history of cancer. Among the factors that increase the risk of developing oral cancer are:
- Smoking cigarettes – tobacco smoke contains carcinogenic substances.
- Frequent alcohol consumption
- Poor oral hygiene – lack of adequate oral care leads to recurring inflammation and cell changes that can turn into malignant cells.
- Poorly selected dental prosthetic appliances can irritate the oral mucosa and increase the risk of cancer.
- HPV (Human Papillomavirus) infection.
What are oral cancer symptoms?
Unfortunately, oral cancer symptoms are not easily distinguishable and may resemble a common infection of the mucosa. For this reason, signs in the initial stage of the disease are rarely recognized. Any changes in the tongue or throat are treated indulgently by the patient and raise no suspicions. Patients often limit themselves to antiseptics or medications for hoarseness and sore throats instead of going to the doctor for consultation. Any lesion in the mouth that lasts more than two weeks should be promptly seen by a specialist.
The most characteristic and common symptoms of oral cancer are white or red spots, lumps, or ulcerations (breakage) located on the side of the tongue or the lower part of your lip. The chek tumor is usually located at the mouth of the salivary gland, while the cancer of the mouth’s floor is visible in the side part of the cavity. A lump may occur on the hard palate or gum, causing the patient to develop the following symptoms:
- Excess production of saliva,
- Numbness in the mouth,
- Unpleasant odor from the mouth,
- Hoarseness and sore throat,
- Breathing difficulties,
- Breathlessness in advanced stages of cancer,
- Bleeding from the mouth.
Oral Cancer Screening and Treatment
Oral cancer screening by our experienced dentist, Dr. Van de Vyver, is a quick and painless process. The exam is crucial for detecting the disease at an early stage. During routine dental and gum checkups, the dentist also visually checks the mouth and face to determine any troublesome changes or whether the disease has spread beyond the mouth. Palpating the neck and jaw areas and the top and bottom of your tongue are routine practices during an oral cancer screening. Such tests should be performed every six months or so.
If cancer is suspected, we will recommend a biopsy of the affected area. If the diagnosis is confirmed, you may need surgery to treat cancer, followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
We understand that oral cancer is a scary subject, but its early detection can save your life. Regular cancer screening, especially if you are in a high-risk group, is highly recommended and routinely performed in our Shelby Township dental office. It is a painless and comfortable examination that should be implemented as part of your annual or semi-annual dental checkup. Let us help you lead a healthy, enjoyable, and long life.