Oral Cancer and Prevention: Frequently Asked Questions

Oral Cancer and Prevention: Frequently Asked Questions

Apr 01, 2020

Did you know oral cancer is the 11th most common cancer? It accounts for about 30 percent of all the cancer cases affecting approximately 53,000 Americans annually. The mortality rate of mouth cancer is high as one person succumbs to the effects of the disease every 24 hours. Although prevention of mouth cancer is not possible, oral cancer screening can increase your chances of surviving the disease. We offer oral cancer checkups with your bi-annual dental exams and encourage our patients to make use of the free service.

Why Do You Need Oral Cancer Checkups?

The primary goal of the oral cancer screening is to detect any precancerous tumors or lesions and initiate treatment on time. No clinical studies exist that indicate mouth cancer screening can prevent cancer, but it can increase your chances of recovery if detected early.

Who is at Risk of Mouth Cancer?

Anyone can have oral cancer, but some people are more predisposed than others. Certain factors such as smoking, overconsumption of alcohol, presence of Human Papillomavirus, and significant sun exposure can increase the risk of developing lip cancer.

What Are the Early Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

In the early stages of mouth cancer, you may not notice any symptoms, but you should check:

  • Stubborn mouth sores and ulcers
  • Unexplained numbness in the neck and throat
  • Red and white patches in the mouth
  • Tender and painful gums
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • Unexplained swelling and discomfort
  • Inability to open the jaws when speaking or chewing

What Can You Expect During Mouth Cancer Screening?

At Westbrook Village Dental, we do both visual and physical exams to check for any abnormal growths. The visual screening test involves checking the mouth and surrounding tissues using a special light. The dentist may request you to remove any removable restorations that you may have for proper assessment.

Physical exams involve touching of the cheeks, lips, and gums for unusual immobile tissues. Mouth cancer screening is a preventive step and not diagnostic, and therefore if anything abnormal is detected, the dentist may recommend further tests such as a biopsy to confirm if the lesions are cancerous or not.

Are There Any Risks of Getting the Tests?

A few. For instance, healthy individuals may be subjected to further unnecessary tests. That’s why most medical professionals recommend oral cancer tests for people with a high risk of oral cancer. Moreover, the test may not detect all types of cancers, such as small lesions, which often go undetected.

Is Oral Cancer Treatable?

Yes, if detected and diagnosed on time. The treatment option chosen will depend on the location, the stage, and the type of oral cancer. Some of the treatment options include:
Surgery is done in the early stages of cancer to remove abnormal tissues or cancerous lymph nodes.
Chemotherapy can destroy and kill cancer cells. The medication is administered intravenously or orally in an outpatient setting, although sometimes you may require hospitalization.
Radiation therapy uses radiation beams to remove the tumor
Targeted therapy includes the use of drugs to bind the cancer cells and impair their growth
Immunotherapy is reserved for advanced cancer cases or when the other forms of treatment have failed. The therapy supports your immune system to fight the cancer cells.

How Can I Prevent Oral Cancer?

No proven strategy of preventing cancer exists, but you can reduce the risk with these tips:

  • Avoid smoking, chewing tobacco and also second-hand smoke
  • Protect your lips from excessive sun exposure.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol as it can irritate the mouth cells and increase the risk of infections and oral cancer
  • Eat healthy to boost your immune system and fight the cancer cells
  • Have regular dental checkups to check for any dental problems
  • Maintain proper dental hygiene to keep your teeth, gums, and tongue healthy

Come for Your Oral Cancer Checkup

Screening of mouth cancer is not a medical exam but a chance for you to check your risk factor and prevention strategies. We offer oral cancer treatment in Peoria, so visit our dental clinic– Westbrook Village Dental for assessment and discussion of any concerns you may have.

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