Some people believe that people should only get screened every 3-4 years. Others believe that people should get screened yearly. But why do we need to screen for oral cancer?
First, we need to understand the difference between screening and diagnostic tools. Screenings look for signs of cancer or pre-cancerous conditions, while diagnostic tools look for cancer itself.
We recommend screenings if you have a higher risk of developing the disease, such as those who smoke or drink lots of alcohol, because screenings can find pre-cancerous conditions before they become life-threatening cancers.
Screenings cannot detect every case and should not be a substitute for diagnostic tests like biopsies and x-rays.
Oral cancer is the term used to describe a malignant change in cells of the mouth. It affects the lip, tongue, cheeks, gums, hard and soft palate, and inside of the throat.
It is important to note that different cancers affect your mouth, throat, and neck. The most common types include squamous cell carcinoma, salivary gland cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, and leukoplakia.
Oral cancer is the ninth most common cancer globally and the fifth most prevalent cancer in the United States. It causes about 54,000 cases annually. The surging number of oral cancer is often due to the late detection of cancer. That is why the Oral Cancer Foundation recommends getting oral cancer screening near you annually, especially if at risk of cancer.
Oral cancer screening can be done on an as-needed basis or as a regular part of medical care. Some dentists and doctors may recommend annual exams, but other professionals recommend screenings every two years.
The tests for oral cancer include visual inspection of the mouth, neck, and throat, a physical examination, or a thin-cut biopsy (removal of a small sample of suspicious tissue). Dr. Terrie Cribbs will use a mirror and light to look at your tongue, gums, throat, neck, and back of your mouth. Special tools can also look for signs on hard-to-reach areas.
A general guideline is that everyone should get checked for oral cancer at least once a year. However, this may vary depending on the individual because everyone is different. For instance, instead of getting screened every year, some people might need to come in every six months. It is important to consult your dentist on how often you need to get screened for oral cancer.
Oral cancer screenings are a way to detect oral cancer in its early stage before it becomes severe and spreads. It is crucial to go for this screening because the signs and symptoms of oral cancer are not always easy to notice.
The benefits of an oral cancer screening include:
The cost of oral cancer screening can vary depending on several factors, such as insurance coverage or whether or not a person has a dental plan.
The cost of oral cancer screening can also vary depending on the type and stage of cancer. Costs can include treatment, co-payments, and follow-up visits or care.
The most common symptom of this disease is a lump or sore that does not heal after two weeks, but there are other symptoms such as bleeding from the mouth or pain in your neck or jaw. If you have any of these symptoms, visit an emergency dentist in Knoxville immediately and get examined.
If you have been diagnosed with oral cancer, several treatments are available, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. More importantly, visit your doctor regularly for checkups so they can monitor your condition and detect any changes early.
Visit TLC Dental Care for more information about oral cancer screening.