Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancers are a serious condition that, if not caught early, pose a significant risk to life. At Harper Dental we perform oral cancer screenings to detect the signs and symptoms of oral cancer early enough to improve your chances of making a full recovery.
What is Oral Cancer
The uncontrollable division of cells resulting in malignant tumors is the root cause of any cancer. In the case of oral cancer, the mutation occurs in thin, flat cells located in the mouth, tongue, and lips called squamous cells. The most common form of oral cancer is lip cancer. Cancers of the mouth are also often found in the back of the throat or underneath or on either side of the tongue. Oropharyngeal cancers are a type of cancer that has spread to the head and neck.
Excessive tobacco and alcohol use and infections linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV) are the most significant risk factors for oral cancer. People are also at an increased risk of developing oral or oropharyngeal cancer if their diet is poor or if they have a weakened immune system and poor oral hygiene habits. Men are more susceptible to cancerous growths in the mouth compared to women, especially if they are forty-five years or older.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Sore mouth ulcers and unexplained lumps or thickening in the cheeks, lymph glands, and neck region that persist beyond two weeks are common signs of oral cancer. People with oral or oropharyngeal cancer may also experience dysphagia, a condition where swallowing becomes painful or difficult.
Other symptoms of mouth cancers include changes in voice, trouble speaking or smiling, sudden unexplained weight loss, and bleeding or numbness in the mouth. Red or white patches may also appear on the lining of the mouth and teeth may start coming loose from their socket's.
What to Expect at an Oral Cancer Screening
The signs and symptoms associated with oral or oropharyngeal cancer are often confused with cold sores and unfortunately ignored until too late. An oral cancer screening is the most effective way to confirm whether your symptoms are a simple cold sore or a sign of something more serious.
Our dentists will begin your screening with an extraoral examination. This procedure involves searching the face, lips eyes, ears, nose, neck, and thyroid for any signs of asymmetry, masses, swelling, discoloration, lesions, or ulceration. We'll then proceed with an intraoral cavity examination. This review covers the hard and soft palate, tongue, cheeks, tonsils, and lymph nodes in your neck.
The options for treating oral or oropharyngeal cancer include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Reconstructive surgery is necessary if oral cancer spreads the base of the skull. Ultimately, the choice of treatment depends on the specific type of oral cancer as well as its location as well as how far it has progressed (stages).
If you've had any of the above symptoms for more than two weeks or need more information about oral cancer screenings, please call Harper Dental at (479) 431-0280 today. The sooner we can address your symptoms, the better the chances of recovery.