When to Be Screened for Oral Cancer

When to Be Screened for Oral Cancer

When to Be Screened for Oral Cancer

When to Be Screened for Oral Cancer

When to Be Screened for Oral Cancer

When to Be Screened for Oral Cancer

Early detection and treatment of oral cancer can improve your chances of cure. This is why it is important to undergo regular screenings that examine the entire mouth. There is no routine screening program or test for oropharyngeal and oral cavity cancers. However, your dentist can identify many cancers and pre-cancers during routine oral exams.

Regular dental checkups can benefit in many ways. You should see your dentist at least once a year to keep your mouth healthy. Dental health professionals, however, do not always agree on how often people should undergo oral cancer screenings.


What Are Oral Cancer Screenings?

These are examinations performed by a doctor or dentist to look for signs of precancerous or cancerous conditions in the patient’s mouth. The goal is early detection of mouth cancer when chances for successful treatment are greater.

During your routine dental visit, your dentist will probably examine your mouth to screen for oral cancer. Some dentists perform additional tests to help identify areas of the mouth with abnormal cells. Based on your risk factors, your dentist may decide that a special test is necessary for you.


The Goal of Oral Cancer Screening

The goal of this type of screening is to detect precancerous or cancerous lesions at an early stage. If your risk for developing oral cancer is high, you may benefit from this type of screening. That said, studies are yet to prove this supposition. Some of the factors that can increase your risk for oral cancer include:

  • Heavy alcohol use.
  • Tobacco use of any kind.
  • History of significant sun exposure.
  • A previous diagnosis of oral cancer.

Over the past several years, the number of people diagnosed with throat and mouth cancer has been going up. You need to talk to your primary care doctor or dentist about ways to minimize your risk and the type of screening tests you should undergo.


When to Undergo Screening

According to many medical experts, adults over the age of 18 years should undergo oral cancer screenings annually. People who use tobacco products should start screening for oral cancer at the age they start using tobacco. These tactile and visual screenings are non-invasive, painless, and quick.

According to the Mouth Cancer Foundation, comprehensive oral cancer screenings often take less than two minutes. Oral cancers that develop due to tobacco use or heavy alcohol consumption often produce visible tissue changes that your doctor or dentist can see with the naked eye.

The rear of the mouth cancers can result from tobacco use as well. However, they more often stem from the HPV16 virus. Therefore, just because you do not smoke or use tobacco products does not mean that you should skip screening for oral cancer.


How to Prepare

This type of screening does not require any special preparation. Your dentist usually performs this important screening during your routine dental appointment.


What to Expect

During the screening exam, your dentist will look inside your mouth to check for mouth sores and white or red patches. He/she will also feel the tissues in your mouth for any abnormalities, such as lumps. Your dentist may also examine your neck and throat for lumps.

To learn more about oral cancer, visit Cossich Family Dentistry at our office in Covington, Louisiana. You can call 985-400-2730 today to schedule an appointment.