It’s probably not surprising that oral cancer can be a serious problem for people of all ages. However, there is some debate as to whether people should receive regular oral cancer screenings. We believe that prevention is powerful and, in that spirit, would like to educate our patients so that you can make the best choice for yourself. Read on to receive background information about oral cancer and to discover the biggest benefits of regular oral cancer screenings.
Oral cancer can occur in the lips, gums, tongue, inside lining of the cheeks, roof of the mouth, or the floor of the mouth, and it’s not always presented with pain. Here are some common questions that we receive about oral cancer:
Is there more than one type of oral (mouth) cancer?
There are many types of oral cancer, including:
- Squamous cell carcinoma (represents close to 90% of all cases)
- Verrucous carcinoma
- Minor salivary gland carcinomas
- Benign oral cavity and oropharyngeal tumors
- Leukoplakia and erythroplakia
What are the risk factors for oral cancer?
While oral cancer can develop for a variety of reasons, some of the most common risk factors are:
- HPV (Human Pappilomavirus)
- Extreme sun exposure to the lips
- Tobacco use (including chewing tobacco, cigars, and pipes)
- Heavy alcohol use
What do we look for?
When we perform a thorough, manual oral cancer screening, we’ll look for the following signs:
- Reddish or whitish patches in the mouth
- A sore that doesn’t heal and bleeds easily
- A lump or thickening of the skin lining the inside of the mouth
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
What is the biggest benefit of oral cancer screenings?
If doctors can find oral cancer at an early stage, the cancer or cancerous legions can be removed before the cancer spreads or becomes larger and poses a much greater threat.
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