The Importance of Oral Cancer Screening

The Importance of Oral Cancer Screening

One of the most aggressive forms of cancer, oral cancer, occurs in the mouth and can lead to life-threatening consequences if it goes untreated. Oral cancer is any cancer of the oral (mouth) cavity, including the lips, tongue, salivary glands, gums, the roof of the mouth, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat).

Oral cancer is often caused by tobacco use, such as chewing or smoking tobacco. However, other risk factors include:

  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Sun exposure
  • Chronic irritation and abrasion of the mouth
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
  • Poor nutrition
  • Poor-fitting dentures
  • Precancerous lesions
  • Certain medication or cancer treatments

What Happens During Oral Cancer Screening?

Oral cancer screening is a quick, simple way to detect oral cancer. Typically, the screening is a painless procedure that takes only a few minutes to complete. After the screening, a dental professional will go over any suspicious lesions that were found, and the client will receive a screening report.

When you come in for your routine checkups, your hygienist will perform a visual and tactile inspection of your mouth. This visual inspection can help indicate any unusual developments in your mouth. We will also palpate the lymph nodes in your neck. The visual examination includes looking for warning signs of oral cancer, including red or white patches in your mouth, sores that have not healed in 30 days, unusual lumps or thickening of tissue, and any swelling or lumps on your lips. If the dentist sees something suspicious, the patient can undergo further testing. This further testing may include a biopsy, which will give the patient definitive results. A biopsy is the only way to determine if a lesion is cancerous. When the dentist is able to catch any symptoms of oral cancer in its early stages, early treatment can be administered, which will give the patient a higher success rate for the treatment. 

What Are The Benefits of Oral Cancer Screening?

Oral cancer screenings are routine dental checkups. Some of the main benefits of oral cancer screenings include:

  • Early detection: Oral cancer is treatable when detected early. If oral cancer is detected during a routine checkup, your dentist can monitor and treat it right away.
  • More effective prognosis: Screenings provide your dentist with an early warning system. If your dentist detects an abnormality, your dentist can take steps to prevent it from progressing.

How Frequently Should I Have Oral Cancer Screenings?

When you come in for your routine checkups at your dentist’s office every six months, your hygienist will perform an oral screening for oral cancer. This screening can help indicate the presence of oral cancer and can catch it in the early stages. If oral cancer is caught and diagnosed early on, the prognosis and recovery rate after successful treatment are very good.

How Effective Is Oral Cancer Screening?

Oral cancer screenings are the most effective way to detect oral cancer. When oral cancer is detected early, treatment is 90% effective.

If oral cancer is detected late, treatment effectiveness drops to 50%. It’s important to remember that oral cancer screenings can’t catch cancer on their own. They must be followed up with a visual inspection.

To find out more about the dental services offered at Orange Family Dental, call (619) 280-4861 or schedule an online consultation. You can also visit our Dentist in San Diego, CA, at 4205 Fairmount Avenue, San Diego, CA 92105.


4205 Fairmount avenue, San Diego, CA 92105

Phone: (619) 280-4861

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SAT By appointments only.

SUN Closed

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