Oral Cancer Screening
Warning signs of oral cancer may be detected by our team, before cancer starts to develop. While the majority of mouth sores are noncancerous, observation of an unusual sore can lead to early detection. The staff at Erik P. Cadra DMD can help you avoid a more serious condition by skilled observation and evaluation of these early warning signs.
Reasons to Schedule a Screening
You should consider a screening if you are considered a high risk for oral cancer. Factors that indicate high risk include tobacco use, which includes cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, snuff, and pipes. Of particular concern are those products which directly expose the mouth tissue to the product for extended periods of time, as the use of chewing tobacco does. Heavy alcohol use is another concern, as is a history of excessive exposure to the sun. This can be a particular cause of external mouth cancer, such as on the lip. If you have a family history of cancer diagnosis, this is another indicator that you may be at high risk, particularly if your family’s cancer history includes mouth cancer.
Maybe you have a mouth or lip sore that is not healing. You might have a patch of an unusual color inside your mouth. Or you may have detected a new lump or growth. These are all reasons to schedule a screening. Additionally, if you have loose teeth, ear pain, or difficulty swallowing, you should consider a screening. Other concerns may involve the tongue. Smaller anomalies are more easily noticed toward the front of the tongue. Further back at the base of the tongue, where it meets the throat, early detection becomes more difficult, since you would not be able to see anything unusual in your daily oral routine.
An unusual mouth sore might be a precancerous lesion, and can be a sign of future cancer. Detecting and observing early can allow treatment to begin before later stage cancer makes success less likely.
This screening requires no special preparation, and is normally done as part of a routine dental exam. Before the screening begins, your mouth may be rinsed with a special dye. Any abnormal cells tend to absorb the dye and make detection easier. Additionally, a bright light may be directed in your mouth, which can make abnormal tissue appear light colored against the darker healthy areas.
After a detailed oral cancer screening, a biopsy is still needed for positive identification of cancer cells. Our doctors may perform this procedure, or you may be referred to a cancer specialist for final diagnosis and subsequent treatment. If no cancer is detected, we will recommend continued routine observation at your regularly scheduled exams. Although an exam by itself cannot determine if there is cancer present in the mouth, it can be the best, earliest way to identify signs of trouble, while there is still the best likelihood for successful treatment.
If you are concerned about your risk of oral cancer, Erik P. Cadra DMD is your first line of defense in its detection. Call us at 661-502-6990 to find out more about an oral cancer screening.