Oral Cancer Screening
Oral and throat cancers make up for about 45,000 cases in the United States and result in about 8,000 deaths. The most common areas of oral cancer are the sides and underneath the tongue and the back of the throat. Studies show that successful treatment of oral cancer is dependent upon diagnosis in the early stages.
Causes of Oral Cancer
Smoking, consuming betel nut, and alcohol consumption carry a high risk of oral cancer and typically affect people over 50 years of age, though younger people may also be susceptible. Over 75 percent of cases of oral cancers were attributed to smoking and alcohol consumption, so oral cancer screening is highly warranted in these patients. Additionally, men and women in their 20s and 30s are also getting head and neck cancers due to the increase in the incidence of human papillomavirus.
A general pattern that is seen is that tobacco or alcohol-related lesions usually occur at the front of the tongue and mouth while HPV-positive lesions occur at the back of the mouth near the throat.
Oral Cancer Screening
The best way to detect oral cancer in its early stages is by performing a cancer screening at Simi Hills Dental. The screening involves extraoral and intraoral examinations.
The extraoral examination includes the examination of all the areas outside the mouth, including the face, the eyes, the ear, the nasal cavity, the neck, the thyroid glands, and the lips.
The intraoral examination includes the examination of buccal mucosa (insides of the cheek), the tongue, the floor of the mouth, tonsils, the hard and soft palate, and the retromolar trigone (the small area behind your wisdom teeth).
At Simi Hills Dental, Dr. Stout will perform both visual and physical exams to detect any signs of cancer.
Before the oral cancer screening, the patient is advised to take out all removable dental devices from their mouth. The examination may be performed with the patient either sitting up or lying down. We will look for any suspicious changes in your mouth, including asymmetries, bumps, swelling, patches of uneven colors, ulcers, and other abnormalities. To check inside the oral and nasal cavity, we will ask you to open your mouth wide and will use a small light and a tongue depressor to look at the back of your mouth. Other tools can help us assess the gums, inner cheek linings, the palate, tonsils and the tissue beneath the tongue.
During the physical exam, we will feel around your head, jaw, cheeks, under the chin, and inside your mouth for unusual lumps or masses. Another abnormal symptom may be rigidity in normally mobile tissues and the patient may be asked if the problem area causes any pain. Although the symptoms of oral cancer can be painful, swelling in the mouth can be a sign of something else entirely.
An oral cancer screening is a precautionary measure; if we do not find anything suspicious in your mouth, you may still be asked to return periodically for more screening, especially if you do substance abuse.
Sometimes, we may recommend further tests, like biopsies, to get to the bottom of a seemingly abnormal problem area. However, this is not proof that you necessarily have a cancer diagnosis.
An oral cancer screening gives an opportunity to the patient to discuss their concerns and fears with us and ask for advice to reduce the risk. If you want to have an oral cancer screening to put your mind at ease, call us at (805) 317-4999 to schedule an appointment today.