Oral cancer is cancer that develops within the mouth or oral cavity to include the oropharynx, or the area at the back of the throat. The oral cavity consists of the lips, inside lining of the lips and cheeks, teeth, gums, tongue, the floor of the mouth below the tongue and the roof of the mouth or palate. The most common form of oral cancer is squamous cell carcinoma and it most frequently forms on the lips and mouth tissue. It is estimated that over 45,000 Americans develop oral cancer each year and identifying and treating oral cancer early is the key to successful treatment outcomes.
At Venice Periodontics and Implant Dentistry of Venice, FL, we perform oral cancer screenings at your regular periodontal visits, twice a year. The goal of oral cancer screenings is to identify cancers of the mouth and throat early when there is a high chance for a cure. Our team is committed to detecting and treating oral cancers and other abnormalities in the earliest stages. When cancers of the mouth or throat are detected early, through a simple, painless and quick screening, patients with oral cancer have an 80% or better survival rate. Like other cancer screenings, such as those for cervical, skin, prostate, colon, and breast cancer, oral cancer screenings can be an effective means of finding cancer at its earliest and most easily treatable stage.
What To Expect During Screening
The oral cancer examination is completely painless! During an oral cancer screening exam, Dr. Lisa Turner will:
- Examine face, throat and neck for abnormalities in the glands or unusual bumps
- Look inside the mouth and the lining of the cheeks for sores or red patches that may bleed easily and have difficulty healing
- Look for leukoplakia, a hardened white or gray lesion that can appear inside the mouth and can be cancerous
- Identify any areas of thickening tissue in the mouth, under the tongue, on the palate or in the throat
If there are any indications that an abnormality has been detected, we will discuss a plan of action and the treatment options that are right for you.
Symptoms Of And Risk Factors For Oral Cancer
If you have the following symptoms, it is important for you to see your dentist, even if you are not due for a regular check up:
- Changes to oral mucosal tissue; red/white patch or any discoloration of tissue in mouth or on lips
- Persistent mouth sore
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent sore throat
- Lump in neck (especially if it does not bother you)
- Mouth or ear pain on one side
- Voice becomes hoarse or a chronic cough develops
Risk factors that may increase the chance of developing oral cancer include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Smoking cigars or pipes
- Excessive alcohol use
- Excessive sun exposure to your lips
- Exposure to HPV or Human papillomavirus
- Over the age of 40
If you develop a sudden change in your oral health, such as a sore that won’t heal or a lump in your neck, call your dentist or doctor right away. If you maintain regular dental visits every six months, you will receive routine oral cancer screenings. If you have any questions or concerns or changes in your oral health, call Venice Periodontics and Implant Dentistry today at (941) 497-5591.