Fast, Easy Screenings For Early Detection
At Framingham Family Dental Care, we’re dedicated to providing comprehensive dentistry that takes every aspect of your oral health into account. In addition to closely evaluating your teeth and gums, we also perform fast, easy oral cancer screenings at every checkup. Although this devastating disease is on the rise, the survival rate is 85%-90% when it’s found early. If you’re overdue for a checkup with a dentist in Framingham and you’d like to be proactive about your oral health, contact us today to schedule an appointment. After your visit, you’ll have a healthier smile and peace of mind from getting one of these important screenings.
What Causes Oral Cancer and How Common Is It?
Sadly, an estimated 53,000 people in the U.S. (or 132 people each day) are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, and one person will die from it every hour. It’s helpful to be aware of the following risk factors, but keep in mind that oral cancer can also be found in people who have no risk factors:
- Age – Although the risk goes up with age, over 25% of new cases occur in people younger than 55.
- A weak immune system
- HPV (human papillomavirus)- Oral cancer is increasingly being found in young, healthy people who don’t use tobacco. Researchers believe HPV may be to blame.
- Tobacco use or heavy drinking
- Frequent or severe sunburns – Sun damage increases the risk for melanoma, a type of cancer often found on the lips.
What Is a Screening Like?
Oral cancer screenings are automatically included in every checkup and take just minutes. We’ll start by visually inspecting your lips, cheeks, throat, palate, and underneath your tongue. We’ll also check for any lumps, bumps, or tender areas on your neck and under your lower jaw.
If we see any questionable areas (red or white patches, callous-like tissue, asymmetrical ulcerations, or swelling), we may ask you to come back in 10-14 days to take another look or refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. This gives you the crucial advantage of early detection, when treatment is most effective. With that said, keep in mind that finding something suspicious isn’t a cancer diagnosis. There are many non-cancerous conditions (such as lumps of fatty tissue) that simply need to be ruled out as benign.
The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
The importance of finding oral cancer early can’t be overemphasized. With just two simple, non-invasive screenings per year, you’re giving yourself the best chance for early detection and effective treatment. And since they’re already included in your routine checkups, they couldn’t be easier.
Also, while professional screenings are essential, it’s also a good idea to watch for the following signs and symptoms between visits:
- Any sores or lesions that haven’t healed within two weeks.
- Changes in your voice.
- Stiffness or pain in the jaw.
- Feeling like something is always stuck in your throat.
- A lump or bump that’s only developed recently.
- A sore throat that won’t go away.
- Trouble chewing or swallowing.