Oral cancer is a disease in which certain cells in your mouth (oral cavity) grow and multiply uncontrollably and spread to other parts, causing destruction. Every year more than 40,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Out of which, over 10,000 die of the disease annually. However, early diagnosis can help curb the spread through oral cancer exams.
The dentist in Albany, CA, and the team provide patient education about oral cancer. They also offer comprehensive screenings to detect cancer at an early stage, in addition to providing effective treatment modalities.
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer is the most common form of head and neck cancer. It usually begins as an asymptotic stage when the cancer signs may not be visible. But, as the disease progresses, it may lead to debilitating symptoms that negatively impact your quality of life.
Oral cancers can commonly develop in the following areas of the oral cavity:
- The floor and roof (palate) of your mouth
- Salivary glands
- Throat (oropharynx)
- Cheek lining (buccal mucosa)
Why is an oral exam essential?
Oral cancer is the most prevalent cancer of the head and neck globally. Early detection of the cancer is crucial since it can greatly reduce fatality rates. Oral cancer screening is the best tool available for early diagnosis in order to design an appropriate treatment plan.
What are the alarming signs of oral cancer?
During an oral cancer exam, your dentist will evaluate the oral and maxillofacial areas for signs of any abnormal changes.
- Red patches on the roof and floor of your mouth that fail to heal
- Sores that heal slowly and bleed easily
- Hardened white or gray, raised lesions inside your mouth (leukoplakia)
- Presence of sore lumps or thickenings in your mouth or throat
How can oral cancer be diagnosed?
Your dentist may use a combination of oral screening methods that include the following:
Visual exam: This is a painless screening method to look out for lesions in your mouth and throat using a simple dental probe.
Palpation: Gentle digital (finger) pressure is applied to carefully feel any lumps or bumps around your face, jaw, and neck.
Screening laser: Lasers can effectively highlight pathologic changes since they can look below the surface for abnormal signs and lesions that are not visible through the naked eye.
Biopsy: It is a procedure that involves the removal of a sample of abnormal tissue to study under a microscope. This can help identify the precise stage and grade of the oral lesion.
Regular annual oral cancer screening is important since it aids in early detection of the disease.