Oral Cancer in San Diego
Most dentists perform oral cancer screenings when you have your routine visit every six months. If there is a history of this type of cancer or cancer in general in your family, then this screening might be performed more often, especially if there are any suspicious areas in your mouth that are discovered during a visit. The screening is necessary to detect any cancerous regions in your mouth before they spread to other areas of your body. The testing only takes a few moments and usually only involves the dentist looking at your tongue, teeth, gums, and the rest of your mouth to see if there are any abnormal lesions or areas of concern. If oral cancer is detected in its early stages, then the chances of successful treatment are often better than if the cancer were to be diagnosed in its later stages because you didn’t have the screening.
Reasons For Screening
There are several reasons as to why your dentist might screen your mouth for oral cancer. One of the most common reasons would be if your dentist has seen a questionable area at a past visit and wants to monitor it for growth or any changes, such as a different color from one visit to the next. If you use tobacco in any way, then your dentist will likely want to screen you for oral cancer more frequently than someone who doesn’t use tobacco. You could also be screened if you consume alcohol.
If you have had a previous oral cancer diagnosis and have undergone treatment, then your dentist will want to perform screenings to see if any other areas appear. Another reason for oral cancer screenings would be if you spend a lot of time in the sun or if you have experienced several bouts of chapped or burned lips due to being in the sun for extended periods.
What Are The Risks?
Although screening for oral cancer usually doesn’t pose any risk to your health because there’s typically no invasive procedure performed, there are a few risks and reasons as to why your dentist might want to perform other exams. If your dentist notices any abnormalities in your mouth, then these areas could need to be biopsied to determine if they are cancerous. Sometimes, these areas could indicate cancer or other medical issues in other areas of your body, as well. Sometimes, oral cancer can still be present in your mouth even after a screening is performed because the cells are in an area your dentist can’t see upon initial investigating. However, if you maintain regular appointments with your dentist, then most areas can be detected before they become invasive.