Oral Cancer Screenings
The numbers are grim: nearly 50,000 Americans will receive a diagnosis of oral cancer this year, and of those numbers, 20 percent will perish from this highly lethal and devastating disease. The five-year mortality rate is not much better, with just over half of diagnosed individuals able to live five years past their initial diagnosis. Every single hour, another person will die from oral cancer. With such a high mortality rate, early detection is vital for an improved prognosis. If caught early, the outcome is generally better for patients.
We here at Wanserski Dental Center for Complex Dentistry strongly recommend regular dental appointments that include an oral cancer screening, not just for the welfare of your smile, but also for your life.
What Does an Oral Cancer Screening Include?
Oral cancer is part of a subcategory known as head and neck cancers, and it makes up 85 percent of these types of cancers. What makes this cancer so horribly dangerous is that it is so hard to detect in its earlier stages. The later the diagnosis of oral cancer, the worse a person’s chance of survival is. That is why it is so important for us to catch this dangerous disease early. During your appointment with us, we will carefully and thoroughly inspect your mouth and throat to determine if you have any abnormalities that indicate to us that you may have oral cancer.
Signs of oral cancer may vary by the type of cancer, but they include a variety of symptoms that we will look for during your screening. Early indications of oral cancer may include pain in your jaw, mouth, or throat or difficulty swallowing. You may have a sore (which may be painless) in your mouth that refuses to heal. White patches or scales may form in your mouth. A lump or mass can be another symptom of oral cancer. Numbness on your tongue or lips can also be a sign of oral cancer, and if you find it is difficult to close your mouth properly, that can also be a big red flag. A sensation of having a lump in your throat, or feeling like you have problems swallowing, can also be suspect.
On the other hand, you may not even notice any symptoms whatsoever.
How Is At Risk
Certain demographics are at higher risk for developing oral cancer. Older individuals are at the highest level of risk, especially if they are male or have a history of tobacco or alcohol use. Men are two times more likely than women to get oral cancer. People with a history of HPV (the human papilloma virus) has been linked to an increased risk of oral cancer, especially in the back of the throat, in people who do not smoke.
If we find something suspicious during your oral cancer screening, try not to panic. We will first send it out for a biopsy to rule out any malignancy. We will also have you return for a follow-up appointment after a week or two to determine if there has been any change to the suspicious site. If it has been longer than six months since your last dental exam, it is vital that you give us here at Wanserski Dental Center for Complex Dentistry a call at (715) 841-9161 today for a checkup and to make sure your whole mouth, and not just your teeth, are healthy!