Oral cancer is one of the more difficult types of cancer to diagnose and treat effectively, usually because symptoms are missed. Your dentist can make a big difference in your prognosis by detecting early signs of a problem, making it possible to diagnose a malignancy and begin treatment promptly.
If you’ve visited your dentist recently, chances are good that you’ve had an oral cancer screening. Most dentists will include this in a regular checkup. It is quick and easy to administer, so if your dentist does not mention that he’ll be performing a screening, ask about it.
During a screening, your dentist will look at the soft tissues in your mouth for any symptoms of oral cancer. He will examine your lips, gums, and tongue, including the underside of the tongue. Symptoms can include:
While these symptoms do not always indicate the presence of cancer, they should be evaluated. As with any form of cancer, treatment is more likely to be effective if it is diagnosed early. Treatment can include surgery to remove malignant tissue, radiation treatment, chemotherapy or a combination of these approaches.
There are several risk factors for oral cancer, although you can develop it even if you don’t fit the usual profile for risk. Talk to your dentist about more frequent screening if you:
If you notice any symptoms yourself, be sure to bring them to your dentist’s attention at your next appointment, or make a special appointment to have them evaluated. If the symptoms seem to be advanced, or if you have a growth in your mouth that is causing discomfort or concern, contact your dentist for an appointment as soon as possible.
Schedule your next cleaning with our team by calling Thompson Dental today!