While examining the inside of the mouth is already a typical part of a regular dental check-up, for many people it is also worth scheduling an appointment for an oral cancer screening. The American Cancer Society predicts that more than 53,000 people will be diagnosed with oropharyngeal or oral cavity cancer in 2020, and together…
Do I Really Need an Oral Cancer Screening?
Curious about who needs an oral cancer screening and what happens during one? The reality is that everyone has a chance of developing a type of cancer at some point in their life. Lifestyle choices and genetics can greatly contribute to the development of oral cancer. However, consulting with a dental professional will help a person determine whether cancer is present.
Although oral cancer is not as prevalent, it is important to have an oral cancer screening to ensure nothing is amiss. Finding these troublespots early is the best scenario for heading off a larger issue from forming and growing, so having oral cancer screenings completed by a dentist at least twice per year is a great idea.
Why are oral cancer screenings done?
During an oral cancer screening, the dentist will look for any pre-cancerous lesions that may be forming, and if this is the case they can typically be removed fairly easily. Catching these lesions at an early stage can be the difference between oral cancer forming or heading it off before things get worse. Catching things early can be the best way to avoid any issues becoming larger than they have to, and having regular oral cancer screenings is a good way to stay ahead of any problems.
Are there any risks with getting an oral cancer screening?
Although there are not any immediate risks associated with having an oral cancer screening, we will detail a few drawbacks that people may experience. Overall, they are very minor compared to having the chance of detecting oral cancer before it has really formed.
- There may be additional tests needed: After having an oral cancer screening, it may be required that the patient has additional tests. A dentist can only tell so much by looking with the naked eye and so having one of the cells inspected can be helpful
- Not all cancers can be detected: When it comes to having an oral cancer screening, not all types of oral cancer can be detected with the typical screening. With how tiny the lesions can be, it is easy that they may be overlooked
- No proof that it saves lives: There have not been any documented scientific studies to prove whether having these oral cancer screenings will save lives. It is known to detect possible trouble spots, however
Preparation and what to expect
Overall, there is no preparation that someone needs to do before having an oral cancer screening. The dentist will inspect the mouth and manually feel the various areas of the tongue, cheeks, and gums. After doing this, they will look in the patient's mouth to see if there are any possible trouble spots. Generally, these are the steps included in an oral cancer screening but may involve more depending on the dental professional.
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Do you have more questions about how oral cancer screenings work and what you should ask for at your next dental appointment? Contact our office today.
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