Oral Cancer Screening Plano, TX
Oral cancer screenings are often part of a preventative dental exam. This examination looks for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. The goal is to detect cancer early so you can start treatment as soon as possible. Oral cancer screenings take just a few minutes.
Screenings for oral cancer are available at Texas Implant & Dental Specialists in Plano and the surrounding area. If concerned about the state of your oral health, call us at (972) 535-6555 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.
Oral Cancer Screening Explained
An oral cancer screening is an inspection of a patient's oral cavity and other tissues for signs of cancer. This visual and physical exam includes the throat, sinuses, and larynx. A cancer screening allows dental professionals to check for signs of oral cancer or any precancerous lesions.
According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 54,000 new oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer cases occur each year. While oral cancer symptoms can sometimes be painful, the early stages are often painless. The intention is to catch it at a stage when it is easiest to remove and treat. Cancer screenings are done routinely to monitor the state of patients' mouths and detect any unusual signs indicative of early cancer development.
“An oral cancer screening is an inspection of a patient’s oral cavity and other tissues for signs of cancer.”
How an Oral Cancer Screening Gets Performed
An oral cancer screening is done as part of a routine dental appointment and requires no special preparation. The periodontist will do a thorough visual and physical check of the lips, gums, tongue, inner cheeks, roof of the mouth, and back of the throat. They will also likely feel along the jaw and neck with their hands. The goal is to look for lumps, spots, discoloration, or any other unusual symptoms.
That is considered a basic oral cancer screening. A more in-depth screening involves the patient rinsing their mouth with blue dye before the exam. Any questionable cells in your mouth will absorb the dye, making them easier to see. In-depth screenings are usually necessary when patients exhibit one or more signs.
“An oral cancer screening is done as part of a routine dental appointment and requires no special preparation.”
What Oral Cancer Screenings Reveal
Suppose nothing unusual is found during a patient's appointment. In that case, they should continue regular dental checkups that include an oral cancer screening. If the periodontist discovers any signs of cancer, we may recommend a follow-up visit in a few weeks to see if the area of concern is still there or it has changed. We may also recommend a biopsy, which involves gathering and testing a tissue sample for the presence of cancer cells.
It is important to remember that if we recommend a screening, it does not mean the patient has oral cancer. These tests are preventative measures that take place even when no symptoms are present. The earlier oral cancer is detected, the more effective treatment can be. Therefore, we examine all patients during their routine dental appointments. We can also advise patients on how to improve their oral health regimen and ways to prevent oral cancer.
“We may also recommend a biopsy, which involves gathering and testing a tissue sample for the presence of cancer cells.”
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During an oral cancer screening, the periodontist will look for signs and symptoms. These include:
- Dark, red, or white spots on the oral soft tissues, tongue, or lip
- Trouble swallowing or moving the tongue
- Constant sore throat or cough
- A mouth or lip sore that does not heal
- A lump or growth inside the mouth
Oral cancer risk factors include tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, and extreme sun exposure to the lips. Gender can also play a part as oral cancer is twice as likely to occur in men than women. It is also more common in adults over the age of 50.
Recently, the human papillomavirus (HPV) has been linked to oropharyngeal cancer, which is the area of the throat at the back of the mouth. HPV oropharyngeal cancers typically develop near or on the tonsils, making them difficult to detect. HPV is considered a leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer.
“During an oral cancer screening, the periodontist will look for specific signs and symptoms.”
Questions Answered on This Page
People Also Ask
Who Should Receive an Oral Cancer Screening
While everyone should see a dentist at least once a year to keep their mouth healthy, there is some debate on how often a patient should get an oral cancer screening. People who make lifestyle choices that put them at higher risk will likely be asked to undergo the screening test more often. This includes tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, and excessive amounts of sun exposure, in addition to having had oral cancer previously.
Patients who do not have any risk factors may not need to undergo oral cancer screening at every routine dental appointment. However, since oral cancers can go undetected in their early stages, it is a good idea to have it done periodically as part of preventive dental care. Our periodontist will answer any questions or concerns patients may have about whether screening is right for them.
“…since oral cancers can go undetected in their early stages, it is a good idea to have it done periodically as part of preventive dental care.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Are oral cancer screenings painful?
A. Oral cancer screenings involve a visual exam of the tissues in and around your mouth. It is typically a physical exam in which the periodontist will feel for lumps around the neck, tongue, and jaw. The screening is painless.
Q. How often do I need an oral cancer screening?
A. An oral cancer screening is often part of a preventative dental exam. If you have multiple risk factors or have had oral cancer in the past, you may be recommended for screenings more often. Our staff will let you know what they suggest for your specific case.
Q. What happens during a cancer screening?
A. The periodontist will look closely at your lips, cheeks, tongue, and soft tissues of the mouth and throat. They may also move your tongue from side to side to look at all sections of it. The goal is to detect any unusual patches, bumps, or sores that may indicate a more serious issue.
Q. Who is most at risk for oral cancer?
A. Tobacco users and heavy alcohol drinkers are most at risk for developing oral cancer. Gender also plays a factor as men are twice as likely as women to get diagnosed. People with a history of oral HPV infections are also at greater risk even if they do not smoke or drink.
Q. Who can perform an oral cancer screening?
A. Any dental professional is trained in performing routine oral cancer screenings. That includes general dentists, periodontists, and prosthodontists. Primary care doctors may also screen for oral cancer, especially if they notice any unusual signs when checking the mouth and throat. Patients may be referred to a specialist if concerns arise, in which they will undergo more testing for a proper diagnosis.
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- An examination of tissue removed from a living body to discover the presence, cause, or extent of a disease.
- Oral cancer
- Cancer that forms in tissues of the oral cavity (the mouth) or the oropharynx (the part of the throat at the back of the mouth).
- Oral disease
- Diseases of the oral cavity that include dental cavities, gum disease, infectious disease, injury trauma, and oral cancers.
- Periodontic evaluation
- An exam done to assess periodontal health by examining the teeth, level of plaque, gums, and bite.
- Preventative care
- Any activity that works to improve oral health issues, keep the teeth, gums, and mouth as healthy as possible, and prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other issues.
Learn More About Oral Cancer Screening
Not all spots or lumps found in the mouth are cancerous. However, staying on top of your oral health and practicing preventative dental care including any suggested oral cancer screenings will help catch issues early on. Call Texas Implant & Dental Specialists at (972) 535-6555 to schedule an appointment.
Helpful Related Links
- American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). 2023
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Periodontal Disease Page. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Periodontal Disease Page. 2023
- WebMD, What Is a Periodontist?. WebMD, What Is a Periodontist?. 2023
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