Oral Cancer Screening

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is not a single condition, but a term that describes cancers that affect the mouth, lips, tongue, sinuses, and throat. While there is evidence that certain lifestyle factors, such as tobacco use, heavy drinking, and even sun exposure can contribute to the development of oral cancer, many people who are living with this condition are non-smokers and are only occasional drinkers of alcohol.

How Can an Oral Cancer Screening Save My Life?

When it comes to surviving oral cancer, early detection is essential. When discovered early, oral cancers can have an 80-90 percent survival rate. Unfortunately, oral cancer is often not detected until it has reached an advanced stage. At that point, the survival rate can dip to as low as 20-30 percent. Our dentists are committed to increasing survival rates through early detection. That’s why our offices include oral cancer screening as part of our regular examinations to all patients.

Is Screening Painful?

No. Cancer screening involves a visual inspection of your mouth, throat, and gums as well as manual palpitations of these areas. If your dentist notices anything suspicious or unusual, a biopsy may be necessary.

How Often Should I Undergo a Screening?

Our teams of dentists recommend annual screenings for adults over the age of 18. Those with known risk factors, such as tobacco use, should receive more frequent screening. The screening itself is painless and consists of a three-to-five minute exam.

In addition to undergoing regular screenings, we also recommend contacting your dentist promptly if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Sores that don’t heal after 14 days
  • Unusual lumps or discolorations in your mouth
  • Unusual pain or difficulty in chewing, talking, or swallowing
  • Wart-like masses
  • Prolonged hoarseness
  • Numbness in or around the mouth and jaw

How Can I Get a Screening?

We offer oral cancer screening as part of our regular examinations. In addition, if you have a risk factor for oral cancer, you can always call for an appointment. Our professional office staff is happy to schedule your screening at a time that is convenient for you, with both evening and weekend appointments available.