Oral Cancer Screening
Part of every dental exam is a brief oral cancer screening. It’s performed with simply a probe in hand, making it painless and easy. At Century Dental , we understand the value that can come from this screening, oral cancer is rarely discussed but is a significant problem. As with any disorder, catching the symptoms early is best.
What is Oral Cancer?
The term oral refers to more than just the inside of the mouth, it refers to the entire oral cavity including the tissue of both inside and outside the lips and cheeks, it also refers to the tongue, under the tongue or floor of the mouth, the hard and soft palate, the jaw structure, and then the sinuses and pharynx or throat. Oral cancer is the mutation and inconsistency of cell development in the facial region, the cells are dividing quickly taking up necessary blood supply.
Anyone can be at risk of developing oral cancer. There are also hereditary, environmental and lifestyle factors that can increase that risk. Studies have shown an increase in the propensity for developing cancer in patients who:
|Genetics: There are inherited genetic mutations that can carry a higher risk to the development of oral cancer.
|Sun Exposure: Unprotected sun exposure can cause cancer to the outside layer of the lips. UV radiation can be very damaging to the skin, including the lips.
|Heavy Alcohol Use: Patients who drink heavily damage the inside of their oral tissue. The alcohol dries the inner lining of skin, making it more porous. This damaged skin is now more able to be broken down by bacteria allowing cancer-causing chemicals to be produced which are poisonous to your cells can then damage the DNA.
|Tobacco, Cigarettes, E-Cigarettes and Vaping: Some of the products listed are still relatively new, but tobacco use has strong ties to the development of oral cancer. The early studies on modern variations, such as e-cigarettes and vaping, are already showing signs of similar information. A recent USC study following 93 patients showed that e-cigarette users developed the same cancer-related molecular changes in the oral tissue that is seen in traditional cigarette smokers.
|Combined Smoking and Drinking: The highest risk group of patients who develop oral cancer are patients who both heavily smoke and drink. In fact, this group are in a 100 times higher risk group.
During your oral cancer screening, we look for anything that has changed or seems unusual. This can include changes to the coloring or texture of the tissue. It can also include the development of scattering bumps, large lumps or unexplained pain. Additionally, we look for lesions or sores that are not healing as they should.
What happens if something is found during my Oral Cancer Screening?
If we spot an area of concern, or an area that we just want more information about, we will ask the patient if we can perform a simple biopsy. A biopsy involves the removal of a small amount of tissue that is then sent to a lab for further study. Most biopsies will come back negative for oral cancer, but for the few that do, we want our patient to seek treatment immediately.