Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer screening is a process through which dental professionals look for cancer before there are any symptoms of the disease. The purpose of screening is to find cancers early so they can be more effectively treated. Indeed, by the time symptoms of cancer appear, there is a good chance that the cancer has already started to spread. Through oral cancer screening, Dr. Xixi Wu can gain valuable information about which people are more likely to be diagnosed with particular kinds of cancer.
Signs and Symptoms
Oral cancer can be difficult to identify; thus, regular dental visits are an important factor in early detection and cancer treatment. Nevertheless, people should be aware of the following signs and symptoms. They should visit our professionals immediately if they notice white or red patches in the mouth or on the lips or tongue, changes in the texture or color of tissues in the mouth such as lumps, numbness, sore patches, or abnormal bleeding in the mouth, especially sores that do not heal, difficulty swallowing, or changes in the taste or tongue sensation.
Sores, lumps or ulcers in the mouth are among the most common signs of oral cancer. Patients may notice deep, hard cracks in the mouth tissue often pale, but also be dark or discolored. These lumps may form on the tongue, lip, throat, or other areas of the mouth, and they may be painless at first. Other signs commonly associated with oral cancer may include difficulty chewing, speech difficulties, swollen lymph nodes, tongue problems, or weight loss.
Who is at Risk?
Patients at high risk for oral cancer include tobacco and alcohol users, and males and adults older than 44 years of age. Recently, research has also shown a correlation with patients with HPV infection. Dentists who screen for oral cancer during routine dental visits attempt to reduce the likelihood for patients who fall into this category.
How Does an Oral Cancer Screening Work?
This procedure is a quick, painless examination that will give the dentist a better chance to find any oral abnormalities you may have at their earliest possible stage. This exam uses low-intensity light to expose the abnormal cancerous cells, which appear to glow under the light. This procedure takes all of the guesswork out of the equation and allows our professionals to appropriately and quickly detect oral cancer in its most early stages. Although everyone should be screened for oral cancer, people with high-risk factors need to be tested prematurely and often.
Preventive Dental Care
Regular preventative dental care is more important when patients consider that these visits offer the opportunity to diagnose developing health issues in their earliest stages, offering the best chance for successful treatment. This includes catching dental issues, such as cavities, tooth decay, or gum disease in their early stages, as well as oral cancer screening. Since there is a known connection between a person’s oral health and physical health, preventive care helps support good dental health and maintain overall well-being.
Oral cancer screening is a practice that more dentists are performing routinely with their patients. Call our team, Dr. Xixi Wu, at (972) 669-9444 today to schedule your oral cancer screening.