Oral cancer screening is performed to look for any signs of cancer in the tongue, mouth, or jaw. The lining of the gums, cheek, tongue, lips, roof, and floor of your mouth are all examined to check for abnormalities or lesions.
What is Oral Cancer Screening?
This exam is performed to check for signs of oral cavity cancer, including jaw, mouth, and tongue cancer. The dentist near you usually conducts this exam.
The areas examined during the screening include:
- Your tongue
- Floor and roof of your mouth
- Cheek lining
Symptoms that you Need an Oral Cancer Screening
The symptoms include:
- You have red patches on the oral mucosa
- Difficulty or pain swallowing
- Having lesions or sores in your mouth that don’t heal
- A lump in your mouth on the tongue
- Experiencing ear pain
- Having sore throat or hoarseness that doesn’t go away
- You have poor-fitting dentures suddenly
- Experiencing mouth pain
- You have white patches on the lining of your mouth or throat
If you notice any changes in your gums, mouth, or throat, you should immediately schedule an appointment with our family dentist in Pompano Beach.
Why Is It Done
Oral cancer screening aims to detect precancerous lesions that may lead to mouth cancer at an early stage. When discovered early, lesions and cancer are easiest to remove and likely to be cured.
People at high risk of getting oral cancer are more likely to benefit from oral screening. Factors that increase the risk of oral cancer include:
- Heavy alcohol usage
- Any kind of tobacco, including cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, pipes, and snuff.
- One has a history of significant sun exposure, which increases the risk of lip cancer
- You have a previous oral cancer diagnosis
There has been an increasing number of people diagnosed with throat and mouth cancers over the last several years, though it’s unclear why. A rising number of mouth and throat cancers are associated with a sexually transmitted infection called human papillomavirus.
If you’re concerned about your mouth cancer risk, talk to your dentist at 33062. They speak to you about ways to reduce the risk and the screening tests that are appropriate for you.
What Happens During Oral Cancer Screening
During the screening, your dentist in Beautiful Smiles Family Dentistry looks for areas of abnormal tissues in the throat or mouth. These lesions or abnormalities include leukoplakia which is thick white patches. Also, it includes erythroplakia, which are abnormally red areas. The screening takes less than five minutes.
Sometimes your dentist will use special lights or dyes to look for signs of oral cancer. The tests include:
- Exfoliative cytology: The dentist collects cells from your mouth with a wooden stick, piece of cotton, or a brush and looks at them under a microscope to see if they are abnormal.
- Fluorescence staining: In our dental office in Pompano, the dentist uses a special light on abnormalities. This is after using a fluorescent mouth rinse to detect abnormal tissue.
- Toluidine blue stain: The dentist will coat the mouth abnormalities with a blue dye to discover areas that are likely to become cancerous.
If your dentist in Pompano Beach discovers any signs of precancerous lesions or mouth cancer, they may recommend:
- A dental follow-up visit in a few weeks to determine if the abnormal area is present and note whether it has changed or grown
- A biopsy procedure where a sample of cells is removed for laboratory testing to know whether cancer cells are present. Your dentist performs a biopsy, or they may refer you to a doctor specializing in oral cancer treatment.
Risks of Oral Cancer Screening
The screening has some limitations, such as:
Oral screening can lead to additional tests: Many people have sores in their mouth, and many are noncancerous. However, an oral exam may not determine which sores are cancerous or noncancerous.
If the dentist finds an unusual sore, they undergo further testing to determine its cause. The only way to decide whether or not one has oral cancer is to remove some abnormal cells. The cells are tested for cancer through a procedure called a biopsy.
Oral cancer screening may not detect all mouth cancers: It’s possible that during the screening, a precancerous lesion can go undetected.