Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth. It can start anywhere in your mouth, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, and gums. This type of cancer is the largest group of head and neck cancers and affects over 40,000 Americans every year. Early detection and treatment of oral cancer are essential for improving your chances of restoring the health of your mouth and your quality of life. Without it, oral cancer can be fatal. While early detection is so important, early stages are often difficult to detect. The Dentists at North Cypress can spot the earliest warning signs of oral cancer with oral cancer screenings.
Oral cancer is a dangerous disease that can affect just about anyone. There are some factors. However, that can increase your risk of developing the disease. These risk factors include:
• Tobacco use. Smoking cigarettes and the use of other types of tobacco products are one of the greatest risk factors for oral cancer. Approximately 90% of oral cancer patients have used some form of tobacco products.
• Excessive alcohol consumption. The occasional drink may not be a risk factor, but heavy drinking is. About 70 to 80% of oral cancer patients have been heavy drinkers.
• HPV. There are many strains of HPV. Only a small number are linked to oral cancer. HPV16 has the strongest connection.
• Family history. If a close blood relative has been diagnosed with oral cancer, your risk is higher.
• Your age. Older adults are more at risk than younger individuals.
• Your sex. Men have a greater risk of developing oral cancer than women.
The earliest symptoms of oral cancer are very difficult to detect, which means that the disease can go unnoticed for quite a while before you ever notice anything is wrong. Symptoms of oral cancer include:
• Unusual or abnormal growths in your mouth. This includes red or white patches on your intraoral tissues.
• Lesions that do not heal.
• Changes in your bite. If you wear dentures, you might begin to notice changes in how they fit.
• Trouble speaking, eating, and swallowing.
• You have a numb sensation in your chin.
An oral cancer screening is a normal part of your routine dental exams. As we examine your teeth and gums for signs of decay, cavities, physical damage, and infections, we also look over your intraoral tissues for signs of oral cancer. These screenings are performed at every dental exam. It is a quick and painless process, and you may not even be aware that it is happening.
If we do find something unusual, a closer examination is needed. During this exam, we look closely at the abnormality and take X-rays. We may also perform a soft tissue biopsy. This is a procedure in which a small amount of the abnormality is removed from your mouth. We are then able to examine the tissue under a microscope. We can then detect, or rule out, the presence of cancerous or precancerous cells. If you are diagnosed with oral cancer, we can then help you to get the immediate treatment you need.
Early detection of oral cancer allows for immediate treatment, which helps to improve your quality of life and your chances of making a full recovery. For more information about oral cancer screenings, and to schedule your next dental exam, call The Dentists at North Cypress today at (281) 664-8100.