Why Do Dentists Screen For Oral Cancer?

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Why Do Dentists Screen For Oral Cancer

Dentists and the other professionals at dental clinics near you are committed to educating all patients about the causes, symptoms and risk factors associated with oral cancer, and to making the earliest possible identification of abnormal cells indicating a heightened risk of oral cancer. Your dentist in Scarborough and their staff do that by conducting oral cancer screening near you.

Oral cancer can affect all the soft tissues in your mouth, including your lips, cheeks, teeth, gums and tongue, as well as the bottom and roof of your mouth. Oropharyngeal cancer (throat cancer) also affects the back of your tongue, the roof of your mouth and your tonsils as well as your throat. The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 5,400 Canadians were diagnosed with oral cancer in 2020. Roughly 1,500 people died from oral cancer in 2020.

What are the symptoms of oral cancer?

Because the symptoms of potential oral cancer can resemble so many other conditions that affect your mouth, lips and throat, attending regular dental checkups with a dentist in Scarborough is essential to undergo regular oral cancer screenings. Some common symptoms associated with oral cancer include:

The presence of any of these symptoms, alone, does not mean that you have oral cancer but does justify a further investigation by a dentist and by your family doctor and specialists — especially if you have any of the significant risk factors for oral cancer. The symptoms to be on the lookout for include:

  • A heal or lump in your mouth that persists and doesn’t go away
  • A lump in your neck
  • Unexplained chronic pain in your mouth
  • Unexplained pain in your teeth or jaw
  • Loose teeth
  • White or red patchiness in your mouth or throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic bad breath despite brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash

How does oral cancer screening work?

At every dental checkup at Vista Dental, your dentist will screen you for oral cancer by looking for those symptoms and ruling out any dental and oral hygiene-related causes. At dental checkups, your dentist and their staff may also use a VELscope oral cancer screening device to scan your mouth for indications of abnormal cells that may be related to oral cancer. VELscope screening is essential to protecting your health and left Early detection of oral cancer cells in or around your mouth is essential to effective treatment and recovery. How essential? The VELscope system performs its screening in mere moments in a completely painless and non-invasive manner, merely by shining special lights onto soft tissues to excite an observable effect.

Why oral screening and early detection matters

The five-year survival rates for lip cancer, tongue cancer and cancer on the floor of your mouth are 93%, 78% and 75% — respectively — if the cancer is found and diagnosed before it has spread beyond the oral cavity. Those five-year survival rates drop significantly if the disease is not found until after it has spread. In that situation, those five-year survival rates are 48%, 63%, and 38%, respectively. The essential point behind those statistics is this: Early detection makes early treatment possible in order to extend and save lives.

Several risk factors that increase the likelihood that you will develop oral cancer have been identified, including:

  • Smoking and chewing tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • A family history of oral cancer
  • The human papillomavirus
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight and other UV radiation (cancer affecting the lips specifically)

If you have experienced any troubling oral symptoms and have any of the risk factors for oral cancer, get in touch with a doctor or dentist immediately and ask to be screened for oral cancer as soon as possible. If you do not have a regular family dentist, we encourage you to reach out to a dentist near you as soon as possible. Even if you are not experiencing any symptoms or are not concerned about any risk factors, ask your dentist to conduct oral cancer screening in Scarborough. It might just save your life.