Oral cancer is a form of cancer that happens in the throat or the mouth. It is part of head and neck cancers. Many of these forms of cancers happen in the lips, mouth, or tongue. Many people are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year, and it most often occurs in older individuals.…
How Often Should You Have an Oral Cancer Screening?
Oral cancer screening is very important. Oral cancer usually appears as a sore or a growth that does not go away. It includes cancers of the tongue, lips, cheek, hard and soft palate, throat and floor of the mouth. Oral cancer can become life-threatening if it is not found and treated early. That is why a cancer screening is a vital part of each checkup.
Frequency of oral cancer screening
Dentists often advise patients to visit them every six months or as recommend. This allows them to routinely watch for gum problems and cavities. The dentist is also the patient’s first line of defense against something more serious like oral cancer. Regular dental checkups are often scheduled for teeth cleaning and for checking for early signs of gum disease and tooth decay.
But a lot of dentists also use these routine dental visits to check for any signs of cancer. Oral cancer screening exams are often recommended by many health care providers every three years for individuals over age 20. People over the age of 40 can benefit from getting oral cancer screening tests annually. The early detection of oral cancer can increase the chances of successful treatment.
What to expect
During an oral cancer screening, the dentist will look over inside the patient’s mouth to check for white or red patches or mouth sores. Using gloved hands, the dentist will also feel the tissues in the mouth. This will be done in order to check for lumps or any other abnormalities. The neck and throat may also be examined for lumps.
In addition to the oral exam, some dentists use other tests to screen for oral cancer. But it is not quite clear how beneficial these tests are over the oral exam. These tests may involve the use of an oral cancer screening dye or oral cancer screening light. The patient may be required to rinse the mouth with a particular blue dye prior to an exam.
Abnormal cells in the mouth may take up the dye and may then appear blue. The dentist may also shine a light in the patient’s mouth during the exam. The light may make the healthy tissue appear dark whereas the abnormal tissue will appear white. If any signs of mouth cancer or precancerous lesions are discovered, the dentist may either recommend a follow-up visit or a biopsy procedure.
Visit your dentist today
People should see the dentist at least once annually to keep their mouth healthy and teeth clean. Many patients can benefit from oral cancer screening exams every one to three years depending on a person’s age. However, not all healthcare providers agree on how often individuals should get oral cancer screening tests. Some of them encourage people who have a high chance of getting the disease to get checked out.
There are particular factors that make people more likely to get oral cancer. These include using tobacco, drinking a lot of alcohol regularly and having oral cancer in the past. Other factors include spending a lot of time in the sun, which raises the chances of a person getting cancer of the lips, and particular types of human papillomavirus (HPV). It is always recommended to ask your dentist if you need a screening test.
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