Importance of Oral cancer Screening and How It Is Performed

Importance of Oral cancer Screening and How It Is Performed

Oct 01, 2019

Oral cancer screening is an examination that is performed by the dentist for examining the signs of cancer or the pre-cancerous conditions in the mouth. Oral cancer screening aims to identify oral cancer early so that there are greater chances of curing it.

Most of the dentists perform an oral examination during the regular six-monthly check-up along with dental cleaning. The oral cancer dentist may also use some additional tests that can help in detecting areas of abnormal cells in the mouth. Many medical organizations are still skeptical about the oral screening examinations were done on healthy people without can risk factor.

However, your dentist is the best person to decide if you need an evaluation or not. According to the adage of prevention is better than cure, there is no harm in getting tested for oral cancer and being sure that you are not at the risk of developing this dreadful disease.

Why Is Oral Cancer Screening Performed?

Oral cancer screening aims to detect the signs and symptoms of cancer or pre-cancer stage which may cause mouth cancer at an early stage. Early-stage detection is considered the best as it is the right time for removing and curing cancer. Some doctors believe that people at the risk of oral cancer can benefit more from oral cancer screening. Some factors which put you at the risk of oral cancer are:

  • Using tobacco in any form such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco, snuff, etc.
  • Heavy alcohol users are also at the risk of developing oral cancer.
  • People who have had oral cancer previously.
  • Significant sun exposure can also lead to lip cancer.

How to Prepare for Oral Cancer Screening?

The oral cancer screening doesn’t need any special preparation. It is performed during a routine dental appointment when you go for a dental cleaning. During the examination, the dentist evaluates the inside of your mouth for checking any red or white patches or mouth sores. With gloved hands, the dentists will also feel the tissues in your mouth for checking lumps and other abnormalities. If you wear dental appliances such as dentures or Invisalign, the dentist will ask you to remove them so that the tissues underneath can be evaluated. In most clinics, oral cancer screening methods remain the same.

Additional Tests for Oral Cancer Screening

Some dentists make use of special tests apart from the oral exam for screening oral cancer. These special tests may involve:

  • Rinsing mouth with special blue dye before an exam. The abnormal cells in your mouth may take up the dye and appear blue.
  • Shining a light in your mouth during an exam as the light makes the healthy tissue appear dark and the abnormal tissues appear white.

Time for Results

If the dentists discover any signs of mouth cancer or precancerous lesions, then they may recommend a follow-up visit within a few weeks. This is to see if the abnormal area is still present and find out if it has grown or changed over time. He may also recommend a biopsy procedure for removing a sample of cells for laboratory testing. This test will help in determining if cancer cells are present. The dentist may perform a biopsy or may refer you to the doctor that specializes in the oral cancer diagnosis and treatment.

It is to be noted that the oral cancer screening is a precautionary measure and not a diagnostic one. If the dentist finds nothing abnormal, he would ask you to visit them at regular intervals for screening. This is especially for patients who use tobacco, drink alcohol, and engage in other practices that increase the risk of oral cancer.

Most people need to understand that oral cancer screening is not just a medical exam but an opportunity for the person to discuss with the dentist near you about the fears and concerns. They can also ask for advice from the dentist about how to reduce the risk of developing oral cancer. If at all you feel anxious or nervous, discuss your concerns with the dentist. The examination should put you at peace that you are free from the disease.

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