Why do I need an oral cancer screening?
Oral cancer can be a devastating diagnosis: of 43,250 people diagnosed each year with oral or pharyngeal cancer each year, only just over half will be alive in 5 years. This poor prognosis isn’t because it’s a cancer that’s hard to discover, but because many people aren’t diagnosed until late in the progression of the disease. Many of the early signs of oral cancer get overlooked, because they aren’t painful or easily visible, so the disease isn’t diagnosed until the cancer has already spread to other locations like the lymph nodes.
How is oral cancer treated?
Oral cancer is most successfully treated when detected early, thus an oral cancer screening should be a component of every dental examination. The definitive diagnosis can only be made by biopsy. Treatment may involve radiation, chemotherapy, surgery or a combination of these treatment modalities.
Yes, it’s scary. And it occurs most often in people who engage in certain high-risk behaviors such as smoking and /or heavy drinking: In fact, 75% of oral cancers are related to alcohol and tobacco use. If you are a smoker or heavy drinker, regular oral cancer screenings are absolutely essential. Another growing cause of oral cancers is the oral Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is a leading cause of the disease in younger non-smokers. One in four people who develop oral cancer don’t have obvious risk factors, so it’s important for everyone to be screened for the disease at each dental checkup.
What is involved with an oral cancer screening?
An oral cancer screening won’t hurt – in fact, you won’t even notice you’re being screened. As a routine part of every dental exam, Dr. Stanfield will be searching for any signs of developing oral cancer, especially:
- Red patches
- White patches
- Hard non-movable lumps
- Lesions which do not heal
In between checkups, please call us right away if you notice any unexplained coloration, lumps, or lesions in your mouth. Remember: Catching oral cancer early dramatically improves the likelihood for successful treatment.
- Oral Cancer Facts, http://oralcancerfoundation.org/ facts, accessed 8-29-14
- HPV and Oropharyngeal Cancer Fact Sheet, http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpvandoropharyngealcancer.htm, accessed 8/29/14
Dr. Stanfield specializes in oral cancer screening in the High Point, NC area. Please call us today at 336-884-8989 to discuss your dental needs. We are conveniently located in High Point, near the intersection of Eastchester Drive and Penny Road.