What is Oral Cancer Screening & Why Bother?
The examination that Dr. Terence Lau and Dr. Casey Lau perform to look for cancer or precancerous conditions is called an oral cancer screening. Generally, this is conducted during your routine dental visit. The examination consists of two forms of inspection: visual and physical.
The objective of this exam is to detect signs of mouth cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth that may lead to mouth cancer. The reasoning behind this is due to the fact that cancer and lesions are easiest to remove and most likely to be cured the sooner they are spotted.
Who is a Candidate for Oral Cancer Screening?
At Mid-Valley Dental Implants, our patients can request an oral cancer screening at any time, or Dr. Terence or Casey Lau might decide that it’s necessary as a result of your lifestyle choices.
Considerations that can make you more susceptible to oral cancer include:
- A previous oral cancer diagnosis
- History of significant solar exposure, which raises the risk of lip cancer
- Heavy alcohol use
- Tobacco use of any kind involving but not limited to cigarettes, cigar pipes, chewing tobacco, and e-cigarettes
Two-Part Examination Procedure
Oral cancer screening is a two-step process.
The first step is a visual inspection of your face, neck, lips, nose, and oral cavity. Your Mid-Valley Dental Implants dentists will be looking for patches of odd color, swellings, ulcers, asymmetries, bumps, or other abnormalities. Along with those inspected areas, they might look at your inner cheeks, tonsils, gums, the roof of your mouth, under the tongue, and the throat.
The second step in the process is the physical portion of the examination. During this time, Dr. Terence Lau or Dr. Casey Lau will use their clean, covered hands to feel inside your mouth, cheeks, head, under the chin, and around the jaw. The reason the physical examination is important is that some abnormalities can only be detected by feeling—not by sight alone.
What if There Are Signs of Cancer?
If Dr. Terence Lau or Dr. Casey Lau notice an abnormality during your examination, they might have you return in a few weeks for another appointment to see if anything has changed. They also might decide that a biopsy is necessary.
A biopsy is a procedure where your dentist or doctor removes tissue from the concerned area and sends it to a lab to be tested. This procedure can be done in our office, or we may direct you to another qualified professional.
Be Proactive: Get Your Examination Done Today
Oral cancer symptoms can be painful, but pain is not the only signifier. A painless swelling of any size could mean problems elsewhere. If you notice anything that matches the characteristics we mentioned, contact our office and schedule an appointment with Dr. Terence Lau and Dr. Casey Lau today to get the treatment you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should you have an oral cancer screening?
How much of a difference does early detection make ?
How can I reduce my risk of oral cancer?
- Avoid tobacco products
- Reduce or eliminate your alcohol intake
- Avoid ultraviolet light
- Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and a wide brim hat when you’re in the sun
- Get the HPV vaccine
- Maintain a healthy weight and diet
- Attend regular dental exams at Mid-Valley Dental
What are some other symptoms of oral cancer?
- Ear pain
- Sore throat
- Dramatic weight loss
- Bleeding in the mouth
- Loose teeth
- Differences in the way your dentures fit
- Difficulty chewing