An oral cancer screening is an important part of dentistry as it indicates any warning signs that oral cancer may be present or on its way. Thankfully, these screenings are quick, painless and very easy! General dentists can perform them during a routine checkup appointment, which makes it even easier. There are two parts of an…
5 Questions to Ask About Oral Cancer Screening
At any dental checkup, patients should request an oral cancer screening even if there are no visible symptoms. Read on for questions you can ask about the process. During a routine checkup, dentists will normally look for symptoms and signs of oral cancer, but asking for the screening is never a bad idea. Oral cancer screenings can help ensure early diagnosis and successful treatment.
5 Questions about oral cancer screening
Oral cancer screenings are particularly recommended for high-risk people, such as those with a current or previous history of tobacco use (smoking and chewing) and/or alcohol consumption. Patients experiencing troubling signs and symptoms, including a mouth sore or lump that does not heal or go away, a recurrent sore throat, difficulty swallowing, or a neck mass should also have a thorough examination. Patients with low risk and without symptoms can have the screening during routine dental examinations.
1. What kinds of problems will an oral cancer screening detect?
The screening can detect pre-malignant and malignant (cancerous) areas in the mouth and throat. It can also be used to distinguish between benign (non-cancerous) and malignant tissues. Also, it can detect a swollen lymph node in the neck that may contain cancer cells from the mouth or throat.
2. What is the oral cancer screening process like?
The dentist will use a light source to inspect the oral cavity and back of your throat visually. A tongue depressor is used for checking those structures. The oral structures, including the lips, tongue, inside of cheeks, the floor of mouth, gums, and teeth, the roof of the mouth, tonsils, back of the throat, and neck, are all checked during the screening.
3. How long does the procedure take?
Oral cancer screening is fast and can be completed within five to 10 minutes.
4. What signs can cause concern during a screening?
The dental professional will check for discolored spots or patches, ulcers or open wounds, and irregularity in the tonsils. They will also use their fingertips to check for lumps or bumps in various parts of the mouth and throat that are not visible. Finally, they will examine the neck for any swollen lymph nodes or masses.
5. What does a patient do if they seem to need further testing?
The next move is to make an appointment to check any suspicious findings from the screening test. It is also possible that a biopsy would be recommended. This involves taking a sample to be tested in a lab for cancer. The biopsy can be done in the dental office, or the patient may be referred to another professional.
Ready to schedule an oral cancer screening?
The sooner oral cancer is detected and treated, the higher the chances of successful treatment. Oral cancer screenings, particularly in high-risk patients, may aid in early detection.
Patients with a family history of oral cancer or who engage in such activities as smoking or drinking too much alcohol might be at a higher risk of developing the disease. If this is the case, oral cancer screening should be done every four months. If you have additional questions, please contact our dental office.
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