May 4, 2017 Why Oral Cancer Screening Should Be On Your Schedule According to the National Cancer Institute, seventy-five percent of all head and neck cancers begin in the oral cavity. Since studies demonstrate survival rates correlate with the stage of detection, early diagnosis and treatment are optimal for this disease. Once treated after the cancer has progressed, a five-year review indicated that less than 60% survive. Of those who do, many develop impaired speech, eating and/or swallowing dysfunction. The incidence of this is greatly due to the fact that most cases are diagnosed late in the disease stage. What is Oral Cancer Screening? Oral cancer screening is an examination performed by a dentist or doctor to look for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. The goal of oral cancer screening is to identify mouth cancer early when there is a greater chance for a cure. When caught in the beginning stages, it can be very preventable. A simple oral screening could decrease the deaths of over 9,500 Americans who die each year from the disease. How Do They Test for Oral Cancer? Tests and procedures used to diagnose mouth cancer include: Physical exam of lips and mouth (for abnormalities) Areas of irritation such as sores and white patches (leukoplakia) Removal of tissue for testing Where Are Oral Cancers Most Commonly Found in the Mouth? In the United States the most common site of oral cavity cancer is the tongue. There are several types of oral cancers, but around 90% are squamous cell carcinomas, originating in the tissues that line the mouth and lips. It may also occur on the floor of the mouth, cheek lining, gingiva (gums), lips or palate (roof of the mouth). What Are the Risk Factors of Mouth or Oral Cancer? Tobacco use accounts for approximately two-thirds of all mouth cancer. What Are the Warning Signs or Symptoms of Oral or Mouth Cancer? A sore throat or painful sores that persist and do not get better Untreated periodontal disease Misaligned teeth due to tumor in the jawbone A white or red patch inside the mouth Lump in throat, on lips, or in the mouth that does not lessen Gums becoming “sandy” feeling or the ability to swallow is compromised Tingling on tongue or lips like pins or needles or persistent earaches indicating nerve damage Constant “bad breath” that could be indicating early signs of cancerous cells Ask about having an oral cancer screening at your next biannual cleaning, and get peace of mind regarding oral cancer. Call our office today at (775) 358-1555 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.