Oral Cancer — Should I Be Worried?
THE IMPORTANCE OF ORAL CANCER SCREENINGS
Each time you see your dentist in League City, TX you are probably more worried about the dentist saying you have cavities and not thinking about cancer. But during a yearly dental exam, among the things your dental practitioner is checking for are oral cancer. Oral cancer is considered malignant or abnormal cells in your lips, tongue, gums, soft tissues in the mouth, tonsils, salivary glands, esophagus, and throat. Throughout this blog from our staff at Gulf Breeze Dental Care, we review common signs of oral cancer, what can put you at higher risk, the way a dentist looks for signs of cancer, and finally, treatment options.
ORAL CANCER SIGNS
Signs of oral cancer might not be visible or painful, therefore it's very important to get routine oral cancer screenings from a dentist in League City, TX. A few of the symptoms of oral cancers your dentist will check for include:
- WHITE OR RED AREAS
A visible sign of cancer is either white or red spots in the mouth, particularly on the tongue or gums. These areas frequently have a velvety feel.
- RECURRING SORES
Persistent sores that grow near your lips or in your mouth that do not heal in fourteen days are a sign of cancer. They can bleed easily therefore it's very important to get them assessed and treated.
- PERSISTENT SORE THROAT
Cancer in your esophagus or throat can lead to a chronic sore throat (even if you don't have a cold) or a sense that food is caught at the back of the throat. You might also have a change in the overall sound or pitch of your voice.
- TROUBLE USING YOUR MOUTH
A lump or tumor in your mouth or jaw can make it tough to eat, talk, or even swallow. You might also feel pain or soreness when you close or open your jaw.
- SWELLING AND LUMPS
Cancer may lead to lumps and swelling in your throat and mouth. In an oral cancer exam, your dentist will feel for lumps in your throat and inflammation near your jawline.
RISK FACTORS FOR ORAL CANCER
Everyone can develop oral cancer; however, there are particular things that could make someone more likely to get cancer inside their lips, mouth, and throat.
- CHEWING TOBACCO
Even though chewing or smokeless tobacco is healthier for your family and friends, snuff or dip still puts you at greater risk for oral cancer. Putting the tobacco straight in your mouth raises your chance of getting gum, cheek, and lip cancer.
Any form of smokable tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, along with many others) raises your chance of developing oral cancer. In addition, those who reside with you or spend a whole lot of time near you are at greater risk of developing cancer via second-hand smoke.
Heavy drinkers (regularly having over 20 alcoholic beverages each week) are at greater risk of getting oral cancer. Heavy drinking as well as tobacco use dramatically increases your risk of developing oral cancer.
Also associated with cervical cancer, a type of HPV (the human papilloma virus) has become connected to oral cancer. HPV 16, an STD (sexually transmitted disease), raises your risk of getting oropharyngeal cancers in the tonsils, throat, and back of the mouth.
Even though the majority of your mouth is protected from harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays, your lips aren't. Routine exposure to sunlight and other sources (for example, tanning beds) may lead to skin cancer on your lips. To prevent skin cancer, use UV protection (like hats and sunscreen). Use lip balms that have SPF 15 to protect your lips.
SCREENING FOR ORAL CANCER
A critical portion of a dental exam is your oral cancer screening. At Gulf Breeze Dental Care, our dental practitioners complete an oral cancer screening on every one of our League City, TX patients throughout their examination. In this part of the examination, your dentist will conduct a physical and visual inspection of your throat and mouth to search for signs of oral cancer. Once they have put on a new pair of gloves, then your dentist will begin with assessing areas within your mouth (underneath your tongue, your cheek lining, and the back of your throat) to search for abnormal signs or growths. They'll also feel your jaw, chin, and neck to look for swelling and lumps. Though a physical and visual examination performed properly is usually sufficient to discover abnormalities, a few dental clinics also utilize oral cancer detection tools, like a special mouth rinse or blue light. If your dental practitioner is worried, they will generally suggest you visit an oncologist.
ORAL CANCER TREATMENT OPTIONS
Should your dental practitioner discovers indications of oral cancer, then they'll consult with another physician. To confirm oral cancer, the physician will most likely perform a biopsy that assesses a few cells from the mouth to look for abnormal cells. If you have oral cancer, your physician will explain your treatment choices and create your treatment program.
Radiation therapy utilizes localized gamma rays, x-rays, protons, electron beam to prevent the cancerous cells from multiplying. The radiation will be aimed at the region impacted by cancer, which restricts side effects.
A set of powerful medications, chemotherapy may be utilized to impede the development of cancer or kill the cancerous cells. Based on the kind of chemotherapy drugs used, you might have different side effects throughout your treatment.
Surgery may be used to eliminate as much of the cancerous region as possible. Based upon the positioning of the oral cancer, this could be a very simple procedure or a lengthier operation. Surgery is often followed by chemotherapy or radiation to address any residual cancer.
ORAL CANCER SCREENINGS FOR EARLY DIAGNOSIS
Be sure you are visiting a dentist in League City, TX at least one time annually to get a dental exam with an oral cancer screening. At Gulf Breeze Dental Care our staff assesses every patient for symptoms of oral cancer in their appointments. Early identification and treatment may significantly boost your chances of beating cancer so be certain that you and your loved ones are scheduling routine appointments to get oral cancer screenings at a dental practice in League City, TX.
* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.