December 13, 2018
Seeing your dentist in Phillipsburg for an oral cancer screening is important for your health and well-being. Oral cancer can usually be successfully treated if caught early. If it progresses too far, then the consequences could potentially be life-threatening.
What Is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is defined as an uncontrolled growth of cell tissue that begins in the mouth, throat, lips, tongue, cheeks, sinuses, or hard or soft palate. Left uncontrolled, it may spread throughout the body. Catching the problem early is essential for obtaining a favorable treatment outcome.
Oral cancer can first appear as one or more of the following symptoms:
- Numbness,pain, or tenderness in the face, neck or mouth.
- Unexplained sores or bumps on the face, neck or mouth.
- Persistent sore throat and/or trouble swallowing.
- Pain or numbness in the ears.
- Teeth or jaw misalignment problems that appear later in life.
- Mouth bleeding, especially if the cause is not apparent.
- The presence of white or red patches within the mouth or on the tongue.
- Significant weight loss unrelated to diet or exercise.
See your dentist or other medical professional right away if you notice any of these problems.
What Are the Risk Factors for Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer can strike anyone at any age. However, people who fall into the following high risk groups should be especially careful to get regular screenings:
- Those who are 40 years old or older.
- Smokers and tobacco users.
- Those who consume alcohol in excess.
- People who are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Men; statistically,males are more likely to develop the disease than females.
- People who eat an unhealthy diet.
- People who have undergone prolonged exposure to the sun or to tanning beds.
Again, we should emphasize that oral cancer can strike any person, even if they don’t fall into one of the high risk groups. It’s important for all of us to get checked out for the telltale signs of this deadly disease.
What Happens During an Oral Cancer Screening?
During an oral cancer screening, your dentist will perform a close visual examination for signs of the illness. He or she will also review your medical history and make suggestions for minimizing your risk of developing oral cancer and other serious conditions.
If your dentist notices signs of the disease, then he or she will probably remove a small tissue sample and have a biopsy performed. If the test comes back positive, then the next step is to undergo a procedure called an endoscopy. This will help to establish the extent of the cancer and determine a course of treatment.
How Is Oral Cancer Treated?
Oral cancer is normally treated with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or some combination of these approaches. If the disease is caught in its earliest stages, then minor surgery alone can sometimes correct the problem. If it has spread, then more extensive surgery may be needed.
Radiation therapy uses concentrated doses of x-rays or protons to destroy oral cancer cells. This approach is often used along with chemotherapy in order to maximize treatment outcomes.
Oral cancer in Phillipsburg is a serious problem that requires prompt treatment. You can reduce your chances of falling victim to this condition by seeing your dentist or other healthcare professional for regular screenings. The small amount of time you invest in this simple precaution can make a huge difference to the rest of your life.
About the Author
Dr. Nélida Garcia-DeMartino earned her DMD degree from Fairleigh S. Dickinson School of Dental Medicine, graduating in 1987. Since then, she has completed advanced training in cosmetic and restorative procedures. You can reach her office online or by calling(908) 859-5260.
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