How Often Should You Have Oral Cancer Screening?

How Often Should You Have Oral Cancer Screening?

Nov 02, 2020

Cancer Definition

Cancer is a term that refers to the uncontrollable and abnormal growth of body cells. These cells invade the surrounding tissues causing tissue damage. Mouth cancer is a type of cancer that attacks one’s throat or mouth tissues. This disease is a member of a larger cancer group known as the neck and head cancers. The U.S alone reports more than 48,000 new oral cancer cases each year. This depicts how widespread the disease is and the importance of going for regular oral cancer screening tests. Oral cancer screening services are available at One Dental Care in Billerica.

According to cancer experts, people aged 20 and above years should go for screening tests every three years, while those who are past the age of 40 should have it scheduled yearly.

Types of Mouth Cancer

One thing that raises the odds of one surviving mouth cancer is early detection and knowing their risks. Below are parts of the body that can get this type of cancer:

  • The gums
  • Lips
  • The cheek’s inner lining
  • Both the soft and hard palate
  • Tongue
  • Mouth’s floor

If a person will ever suffer from this illness, it’s their dental care provider who will most likely notice its signs. This is why dentists in Billerica, MA, encourage people to go for biannual oral checkups because these tests update your oral practitioner about your mouth’s health condition.

Its Symptoms

  • Loose teeth
  • Tongue pain
  • Chin, face, neck, or lower lip numbness
  • Sore throat
  • Jaw stiffness or pain
  • Presence of red, white, or both white and red patches on or in the lips or mouth
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Persistent earache
  • A visible growth or mass anywhere in the oral cavity
  • Sudden weight loss
  • The appearance of non-healing sores on the mouth or lip
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Development of a lump on the neck

Risk Factors

The use of tobacco and its products is among the contributing factors for mouth cancer. The odds of developing this disease is even higher when one consumes alcohol excessively and uses tobacco in large amounts too. The risk is much greater when both of these toxic substances are used together on a daily basis.

Examples of other factors that put you at risk include:

  • Being male; The chances of a man contracting mouth cancer is twice as high as it is for a woman.
  • HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) infection
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Poor nutrition
  • Having a weak immune system
  • A previous oral cancer diagnosis
  • Excessive exposure to the sun at an early age
  • Cancer history in your family

The Diagnosis

Statistical data shows that 84 percent of patients who had been early-diagnosed with pharynx and oral cavity cancer have a survival rate of 5 years. This happens to be the case when the cancer cells have not spread to neighboring lymph nodes, tissues, or organs—the 5-year-survival-rate drops by 19 percent when the cancer cells have already spread.

Tests to check for mouth cancer are usually scheduled as a part of a dental exam routine. Your dental practitioner will check for irregular changes in the neck, face, mouth, and head tissues during the cancer screening. He/she will also search for any lumps, discolored tissue, or suspicious sores.

If an suspicious-looking area is detected, a biopsy will be done to look for cancer cells. Since there are all kinds of biopsies, your doctor will select the one that is best for you.

Other tests that might be conducted include:

  • PET Scan – It gives data on how far cancer has spread.
  • X-rays – They outline whether cancer has spread to other organs like the chest, lungs, and jaw.
  • CT scan – Used to show any tumors that might be present at the throat, neck, mouth, lungs, or other body parts.
  • An endoscopy – It sheds light on the health of a person’s trachea, sinuses, nasal passages, and inner throat.
  • MRI scan – Used to determine the patient’s cancer stage by giving accurate images of the patient’s neck and head.

Treatment

The treatment for mouth cancer is determined by cancer’s stage, location, and type. Here is a list of the various treatments available:

  1. Chemotherapy
  2. Radiation therapy
  3. Targeted therapy
  4. Surgery