Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer, or squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth and pharynx, affects close to 50,000 Americans every single year. It also accounts for almost 10,000 deaths a year. A vast majority of those diagnosed are not diagnosed until the later stages when symptoms begin to present themselves. Unfortunately, the later the diagnosis, the more difficult the condition is to treat. At Advanced Dental Associates, we can help to detect oral cancer in its earliest stages with regular oral cancer screenings.
Why Early Detection is So Important
One of the biggest issues when it comes to successful treatment of oral cancer is that it often doesn’t get diagnosed until it is in the later stages. By then, it has had a chance to spread, making it more difficult to eradicate fully. The problem with early detection is that the symptoms are almost impossible to detect on your own in the early stages of development. By the time any symptoms are noticed, oral cancer has begun to worsen. When diagnosed and treated early, oral cancer has up to a 90% survival rate. When not detected until later stages, the rate of survival drops to as low as 20%.
Do Oral Cancer Screenings Hurt?
Oral cancer screenings are not at all painful. Your oral cancer screening involves a visual inspection of the soft tissues of your mouth and throat. We also look at your face and neck, as well as feel the neck for any lumps. The whole process takes only just a few minutes to complete.
If we do find an unusual growth or lump in your mouth, further testing is required. In addition to a closer examination, a soft tissue biopsy may also be recommended. This is a test that involves removing a small amount of the lesion so that it can be examined under a microscope. Sometimes, what we find is benign, or non-cancerous. If it is determined to be oral cancer, however, we can then help you to get the treatment you need. This might mean surgery to remove the lesion. In very early stages, this might be enough to remove cancer. A follow-up exam will help to make sure that it has been completely eradicated. If you do need additional care, we can help you to get the treatment you need for the best results.
How Often Do I Need Oral Cancer Screenings?
Oral cancer screenings are typically performed annually starting at the age of 18. If you begin smoking before this age, screenings may be recommended earlier. The actual frequency of your screenings will depend upon your risk factors as well. For instance, if you smoke, drink heavily, or have a family history, screenings may be done at every dental exam. Additionally, if you suspect something wrong between your regular appointments, such as an unusual growth or sore that hasn’t healed after 14 days, you can call the office, and we can perform a screening to make sure that there is nothing wrong.
Regular oral cancer screenings are an essential part of detecting oral cancer in its earliest stages, increasing your chances for successful, life-saving treatment. For more information, or to schedule your next dental exam, contact Advanced Dental Associates at (210) 714-5589 today.