Oral Cancer Screening for Early Detection
Approximately 330,000 people die from oral cancer each year. However, when caught early, this type of cancer has an almost 90% survival rate. These sobering statistics remind us how important it is to keep an eye out for the early signs of oral cancer.
What is an oral cancer screening?
Even if you don’t realize it, if you’ve ever visited a dentist, it’s likely that you’ve already undergone an oral cancer screening. Dentists and hygienists are trained to watch out for abnormalities in the tissues in your mouth as well as on your face and neck. A visual screening consists of examining the tissues including the throat, lips, cheeks, inside of the nose, sinuses, larynx, pharynx, and more.
Your dental expert is looking for anything out of the ordinary including white, red, or speckled patches in your tissues and unexplained bumps or lumps.
What symptoms should you watch for?
In addition to undergoing an oral cancer screening every time you visit the dentist, there are also a few signs you can keep an eye out for:
- Unexplained numbness in your face or mouth
- Mouth sores that don’t heal within two weeks
- Chronic sore throat
- Ear pain
Are you at risk?
While it is possible for anyone to develop oral cancer, there are some people who are at a higher risk. Make sure your dentist knows this information about you if you:
- Smoke or use tobacco products
- Are HIV positive
- Spend a lot of time in the sun
- Are over 55
- Are male (men get oral cancer at twice the rate of women)
Remember, early detection is key in fighting oral cancer. A quick two-minute visual screening could literally save your life.