Oral Cancer Screenings
Depending on your age, you have probably already had a cancer screening - or multiple ones. It is a fact of life. During our lifetimes, we are screened for all kinds of cancer - breast, prostate, skin cancer, and colon cancer. Most of us don't really begin the cancer screening process until after age 50. However, there are some cancers you have been screened for all of your life - you just might not be aware of it. We screen you for cancer twice a year-every time you come in to see us for a checkup. If you aren't sure about getting screened for oral cancer, or why we do it, let Zhou Dental Care talk to you about the importance of oral cancer screening.
What Does An Oral Cancer Screening Look Like?
When you come in to see us twice a year for your dental exam and cleaning, we check you for oral cancer. Many of our patients have very short oral cancer screenings because they don't use tobacco, and they don't drink heavily. For patients who aren't at risk for oral cancer, we simply do a check of your mouth, your gums, your tongue and your cheeks for any unusual spots or bumps, because unusual spots or bumps in your mouth could be a warning sign of cancer.
There are people who are at a higher risk for oral cancer. If you are a tobacco user, or you were one in the past, your risk of oral cancer is higher. If you are a heavy drinker, you are also at a higher risk. If you have had oral cancer in the past, you are still at a high risk for it now. If you are at a higher risk for cancer, we will need to make our tests more thorough. We will shine a light in your mouth to check for anything unusual. We are looking for unusual bumps or spots. Sometimes, we ask our patients to swish a blue solution in their mouths, because it allows us to see any cancerous growths more clearly.
Why Are These Screenings So Important?
We believe that screening for oral cancer is really important. When oral cancer begins in your mouth, it is very treatable. The problem is that it is also very difficult to detect. In the early stages, oral cancer looks like a garden variety mouth sore, or a bump. You might think you bumped your mouth on something, and that's why there's a bump there. We really want to catch oral cancer at the earliest stage possible, because in the beginning, it is very easy to treat quickly. Oral cancer is not painful at the beginning, which makes it even more difficult to find and treat. The earlier you get oral cancer treated, the better it is for you, because oral cancer is easy to treat early. We can treat oral cancer with surgery and radiation if it is caught early.
Sadly, the longer oral cancer goes untreated, the more dangerous it becomes, and the more likely you will have to have surgery, chemotherapy, and even disfiguring surgical procedures to treat the cancer. It can be life-threatening. That's why we screen you each time you come in for your checkup.
If you have a history of tobacco or alcohol use, we want to help. Why not come in and see Zhou Dental Care? You can also give us a call at 503-282-3884. We want to screen you for oral cancer, and give you peace of mind. Give us a call today.