Oral Cancer Screening
At Geelan Dental Care we consider oral cancer screenings to be an important health check for high-risk patients. These screenings involve a visual and physical examination of the oral cavity, throat, lips, head, and neck areas to identify any possible signs of abnormal cancerous cells. Cancer may present itself in a variety of ways including lesions, sores, or lumps. However, in most cases where such conditions are present, they are non-cancerous.
Early detection of mouth cancer tends to allow for less invasive treatment and improves the chances of full recovery. This cancer is more likely to occur in people who have HPV, smoke, chew tobacco, drink alcohol heavily, endure serious sun exposure, and have a history of cancer in the family. Should the screening suggest the possibility of unusual sores or lesions, we may need to recommend further testing.
No preparation is required before your visit to the clinic. During the exam, we will request you to remove any dentures to expose as much of the soft tissue as possible. The exam begins with a visual check of the oral cavity to detect any abnormalities. We use light and mirror to get a clear view of as much of the cavity as possible. A tongue depressor is used to examine the throat and tonsils. With a gloved hand, we then move on to the physical exam. We use fingers to check on any lumps and the presence of immobile tissues. This probing can also help in pinpointing any areas that may be painful to the touch.
In addition to the visual and physical exams, we can take a step further with a dye exam. This involves rinsing the mouth with a special blue acidic dye. Some abnormal cells do take up the dye, making it easier to identify likely problem areas. A VELscope oral assessment also aids in illuminating abnormal tissues. Under the light, abnormal tissues appear lighter while healthy tissues look darker.
Oral cancer screening does not automatically confirm cancerous cells. If during your exams we feel there is a need for further investigation, particularly if your lesions or other indicators persist for more than two weeks, a biopsy procedure may be recommended. A biopsy involves the removal of some of the suspect cells for lab testing.
Why Screening is Important
Early detection of oral cancers is vital because the head and neck areas of the body receive a strong blood supply. This means that abnormal cell growth can develop and spread faster across the body. To prevent this occurrence, it is ideal for detecting cancer even before it presents symptoms. These cancers are rarer, but because of how devastating they can be, it is important to keep track of any oral symptoms and make consultations if they are prolonged and you possess high-risk factors. If you have had oral cancer before, there is also an increased risk of recurrence.
For more information on whether oral cancer screening is appropriate for you, call Geelan Dental Care on (971) 323-1990 to make an appointment.