Oral Cancer Screening
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 52,000 Americans will get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer this year. Luckily, the survival rate for these cancers had been increasing over the last 30 years, largely thanks to oral cancer screenings. At Caldera Dental Group, we perform an oral cancer screening to look for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. The goal is to identify cancer early on when there is a much greater chance for a cure. Dr. Primley typically examines your mouth during your routine dental appointment. An oral cancer screening is broken down into two parts: a visual and physical exam.
Before your screening begins, we will ask you to take out any removable dental appliances. This will help us examine your mouth more thoroughly. Next, we will take a look at your face, neck, lips, oral cavity, and nasal cavity. While we look inside your nose and mouth, we will use light, mirror, and tongue depressor to get a better view. We may also use specialized tools to evaluate the gums, cheeks, tongue, and palate. We are looking for any abnormalities that may indicate that cancer cells are present. The visual signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:
After or during your visual exam, we will perform the physical exam. During the physical exam, we will feel for any unusual nodules or masses located on the head, cheeks, jaw, chin, and oral cavity. Oral cancer symptoms can be painful, and you may be asked whether physical contact causes any discomfort. Some patients complain of a sore throat, numbness, hoarseness, or a change in their voice. Other physical symptoms include:
During the exam, we will ask you about any unusual symptoms or changes in your medical history. There are also some risk factors that may make oral cancer more likely. Some of these factors include tobacco use of any kind, heavy alcohol use, a previous oral cancer diagnosis, and a history of significant sun exposure. You may want to ask about ways to reduce your risk of oral cancer during your appointment.
After Your Screening
If we discover any signs of cancer during your screening, we may recommend a follow-up appointment. We will not be able to tell right away if the abnormality is cancerous. During the follow-up appointment a few weeks later, we will check to see if it has grown or changed over time. We may also perform a biopsy procedure to remove a sample of cells for laboratory testing. If the lab technicians determine there are cancer cells present, we may refer you to a doctor that specialized in oral cancer treatment.
Schedule Your Screening today
If you would like to schedule an appointment, call (541) 604-2900 today.