Oral Cancer Screenings Could Save Your Life
What's one of the easiest cancer screening exams? Oral cancer screening! Now part of routine dental check-ups by family dentists such as Dr. Jason W. Dyson at Parmer Oaks Dental Care in Cedar Park, TX, oral cancer screening is fast and painless.
According to the American Dental Association, oral cancer has a 5-year survival rate of just 64 percent if diagnosed late in the disease process. With early detection, however, that number improves to over 80 percent.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer affects the back of the throat, the lips and the soft tissues inside the mouth such as the:
- inside of the cheeks
- hard palate (roof of the mouth)
- a swelling or lump that does not go away
- red or white patches
- difficulty swallowing or speaking
- sore throat
- a change in how teeth bite together or in how a partial or full denture fits
Unfortunately, symptoms are not always obvious to the individual, and that's why dentists screen for oral cancer.
The Screening Process
Dr. Dyson checks for oral cancer as part of semi-annual adult exams. Visual inspection is his best tool as he looks for swellings, sores, and color changes. He also palpates or feels the lymph nodes of the neck. Some dentists use a special light to help visualize areas of concern in the mouth. If an area appears suspicious, a simple biopsy is performed and sent out for lab analysis.
Who is at Risk
As with any cancer, some people are more at risk than others for developing oral cancer. Among the risk factors are:
- age (over 40)
- being male
- chewing tobacco or smoking cigarettes
- heavy alcohol use
- sun exposure (cancer on the lips)
- exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV16 which is sexually-transmitted)
Don't Be Afraid
Dr. Dyson and his professional team encourage their patients that good dental care includes oral cancer screening. A simple exam, including in a routine dental check-up, really saves lives. It's what you don't know that can hurt you.
Contact Dr. Dyson to schedule your routine hygienic cleaning and check-up today. If you're new to Parmer Oaks Dental Care in the Cedar Park area, take advantage of the $99 new patient special. It includes a comprehensive oral exam, x-rays and cleaning. Call (512) 528-8900.