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Don’t Miss Out On Your Oral Cancer Screening

Though relatively rare, it is one of the easiest cancers to spot and diagnose. And if treated early, it is usually curable. Oral screening exams are inexpensive, are easy to perform, and have the potential to reduce the annual global mortality for oral cancer by tens of thousands of people.

Screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms. This can help find cancer at an early stage. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread.

Most dentists perform an examination of your mouth during a routine dental visit to screen for oral cancer. Some dentists may use additional tests to aid in identifying areas of abnormal cells in your mouth. The goal with oral cancer screening is to identify cancer early, when there is a greater chance for a cure.

Screening is, by definition, for asymptomatic patients. The goal of screening is to find patients with cancer prior to the development of symptoms. Therefore, in the strictest definition of screening, patients who come in complaining of the principal symptoms of head and neck cancer-such as otalgia, neck mass, hoarseness, dysphagia, odynophagia, or unintentional weight loss-should undergo a complete exam directed toward finding the origin of their symptoms, and consequently this should not be considered a screening exam.

Even if you do not smoke, chew tobacco, or drink you may still be at risk for developing oral cancer. A less common risk factor for developing oral cancer is a recent hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, or HSCT. But for those of us who do not fall under any of these categories there is still the risk of developing cancer through genealogical factors and exposure to the increasingly common Human Papillomavirus which is more often known as HPV. If you are at risk of developing oral HPV, there is a significant danger of you developing oral cancer. Men are also more likely to develop cancer, especially those older than 40.

The dangers of waiting for cancers to develop into later stages are numerous and devastating. If oral cancer is not treated quickly, potential consequences include removal of the tongue, removal of the lower jaw, and radical neck dissection. If left untreated long enough oral cancers can even be fatal.

Don't Miss Out On Your Oral Cancer Screening

 

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