Like other cancer screenings, one of these for oral cancer is designed to find early warning signs before there are any symptoms. This is especially important with oral cancer for two specific reasons. First of all, both oral and throat cancers are often curable if they are found early and treated. Secondly, with a five-year survival rate that is only a bit higher than 64 percent for people diagnosed with the disease, early detection is vital. Because of their locations, oral and throat cancers can metastasize to lymph nodes in the neck. Therefore, Pensacola dentist Dr. Hodges advises biannual dental checkups that always include an oral cancer screening.
Oral and pharyngeal cancers develop in the soft tissue of your mouth and throat—the tongue, lips, cheeks, gums, roof and floor of your mouth, and in your throat or sinuses. Therefore, your dentist in Pensacola and his staff are on the front line of defense against this disease, because they examine the oral cavity regularly.
Oral Cancer Risks
There are certain behaviors that increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Most notable among those—according to the American Cancer Society—is tobacco use, whether smoked or chewed. Combining cigarettes, cigars, pipes or chewing tobacco with too many alcoholic beverages increases that risk.
Some other risk factors are:
- Excessive sun exposure on your lips and face
- HPV infection
- A family history of cancer
- Previously having been diagnosed with oral cancer
Warning Signs of Oral Cancer
At your dental checkup, we look for outward signs that may indicate the beginning of oral cancer. You too can look for these signs at home when your brush and floss your teeth. They are:
- A red or white patch on any oral tissue that is either smooth or scaly
- A sore, bleeding or not, that doesn’t heal within two or three weeks
- A lump in any tissue of the mouth, jaw or neck
- Loose teeth or dentures that suddenly don’t fit properly
- An earache but no sign of infection
- A spot in your mouth that feels numb
- Trouble chewing or swallowing
The Oral Cancer Screening in Pensacola
During your dental checkup, we’ll visually examine your mouth and face and palpate along your jaw and neck to feel for any lumps. We check inside your cheeks, under your tongue and along the roof of your mouth looking for the signs listed above.
Contact Our Office Today
For the sake of your smile and your health, you shouldn’t delay a dental checkup with oral cancer screening. Call our office today to schedule an appointment today.