What a lot of people don’t realize is that every time they visit our office for an exam or professional cleaning with our dental hygienist, we’ll also be looking for early signs of oral cancer.
Why do we automatically perform this service? For two reasons. First, we care about the health of our patients in every regard. But equally important is the fact that oral cancer has the lowest 5-year survival rate of almost any cancer in the human body.
Many of us have been told about the importance of visiting our dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and a professional exam. Some of us might have thought the timing of these appointments was for the sole purpose of keeping dental decay and gum disease at bay. But there’s another reason. Early diagnosis of oral cancer.
Although the only true way to diagnose oral cancer is through a tissue biopsy, following are some of the early signs that you should come in for a screening:
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms between your regularly scheduled dental appointments, it could always be from another condition such as allergies – but it could also signal oral cancer. As such, it’s recommended that you make an immediate appointment for an oral cancer screening at which time we’ll thoroughly examine your mouth, throat, gum, and surrounding area to detect any lesions that appear suspicious.
If a lesion is detected, we’ll immediately take a picture of it with our intra-oral camera to document its color, size, shape, and exact location, and you’ll receive instructions for at-home follow-up. We’ll ask you to return in two weeks to compare the condition of the lesion against the photo-documentation. If the lesion has disappeared, then nothing further will be required except to monitor the area for future reappearance. However, if the lesion is still present, we will take a biopsy sample to make sure that it’s not oral cancer.