Oral Cancer Screening
Oral Cancer Screening in Wilmington, NC
More than 49,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States, and this number has steadily risen over the last decade. Luckily, oral cancer can easily be diagnosed during your annual oral cancer screening at the dentist and effectively treated when caught in its earliest stages.
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Overview of Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer screening is an examination performed by a dentist to look for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. Oral cancer, which includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat), occurs most often in people over 40 years old and can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.
Why Would a Dentist Recommend an Oral Cancer Screening?
Your dentist is often the first healthcare provider to notice signs of oral cancer, and getting regular oral cancer screenings can keep your dentist up to date on any changes in your oral health.
The goal of oral cancer screening is to identify oral cancer early when there is a greater chance for successful treatment – there’s a five-year survival rate of 85% if oral cancer is diagnosed at an early stage. This five-year survival rate is even higher for some types of oral cancer, such as lip cancer, with a 93% survival rate when detected early.
Oral Cancer Causes & Increased Risk Factors
The following factors may increase the likelihood of developing oral cancer:
- Tobacco: Using tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, is the single biggest risk factor for oral cancer.
- Alcohol: Frequent and heavy consumption of alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. This risk is higher for people who use both alcohol and tobacco.
- Previous cancer diagnosis: Your risk of getting oral cancer is higher if you’ve been diagnosed with any other type of cancer before.
- HPV: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of over 150 viruses. HPV type 16 (HPV16) is the type most often linked to oral cancer, especially those in the tonsil and base of the tongue. Oral cancers linked to HPV infection tend to have better outcomes than tumors not caused by HPV because chemotherapy and radiation treatments work better for these cancers.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
Oral cancer doesn’t always cause pain or noticeable symptoms, especially in the early stages. This is why oral cancer screening is so important.
Common signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Red or white patches on the inside of the mouth
- Lumps, growths, or sores on the lips or mouth
- Unexplained bleeding in your mouth
- A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
- Ear pain
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
- Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
- Dramatic weight loss
- Voice changes, chronic sore throat, or hoarseness
- Changes in your bite or how your dentures fit together
What Happens at Mouth Cancer Screening?
During an oral cancer screening, Dr. Overton performs a thorough examination of your head and neck area as well as your lips, cheeks, tongue, palate, the floor of the mouth, and gum tissues for oral cancer signs. We will look for abnormalities and feel the face, glands, and neck for unusual bumps. If we find anything suspicious, we may recommend a biopsy or refer you to an oral surgeon.
How Much Do Oral Cancer Screenings Cost?
A mouth cancer screening typically costs around $70 to $90, but you don’t have to pay out of pocket since insurance covers it.
Oral Cancer Screenings at Mayfaire Family Dentistry
While there’s no proven way to prevent oral cancer, early detection can help increase the chances of better treatment outcomes. At Mayfaire Family Dentistry, we provide comprehensive oral cancer screenings in Wilmington, NC. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.