Why Regular Oral Cancer Screenings Are Important

Other cancers are often more at the forefront of people’s minds. This includes breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and lung cancer, just to name a few. But oral cancer is just as serious, common, and concerning as these more widely-known varieties. With the help of a dentist, many patients can get an early diagnosis and find an effective treatment to reduce their risk of death. To find the signs and symptoms of oral cancer, patients may want to ask about the benefits of regular oral cancer screening in Encinitas, CA area dental practices such as Ablantis Dental.

What is an oral cancer screening?

The oral cancer screening is an evaluation that takes place right in the dental office during a routine cleaning and examination. Our dental hygienists will clean the teeth and gums and provide information to the dentist regarding any areas of concern. Patients who have unusual growths or changes in their mouth may want to bring this to the attention of the dental team for further evaluation. An oral cancer screening is performed, during which the dentist will evaluate the tissues and structures in the mouth to look for signs of oral cancer. This includes the lips, tongue, and the inside of the cheeks. The dentist is looking for lumps, swelling, or patches of red or white in the mouth or throat. These may be signs of oral cancer. If there is an area of concern, a sample is removed and biopsied. Then, the dentist sends the sample tissue to an outside laboratory for further evaluation.

What causes oral cancer?

There is not a specific “cause” of oral cancer, per se, but there are situations in which a patient may be at an increased risk of developing oral cancer. Patients over the age of 40 are often more affected by oral cancer, including those who have certain risk factors such as:

  • Chronic tobacco use
  • Chronic alcohol use
  • Chronic sun exposure (for cancer on the lips)
  • Genetic predisposition/hereditary

There has been a continued rise in younger patients developing oral cancer, and this is often due to the spread of HPV16, also known as the Human Papilloma Virus, a sexually transmitted disease.

How is oral cancer treated?

Once patients have received a diagnosis of oral cancer, they may be unsure how to proceed. Oral cancer can often be improved with manual removal of the cancerous tissues in the mouth. In other cases, patients might want to speak to an oncologist about the possibility of undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. The treatment method chosen often depends on the type of cancer and the severity or stage it has reached. Treatment options are discussed thoroughly with the patient, and Dr. Claudia Cortadi will make recommendations based on her skills and expertise in oral cancers.

How often should I have an oral cancer screening?

Most patients will benefit from having an oral cancer screening performed during their routine checkups at Ablantis Dental. It is a part of our thorough evaluation that we recommend for patients of all ages. However, if a patient notices a growth or change in their mouth that might be indicative of cancer, they are strongly encouraged to make a separate appointment for screening even if they are not due for their next cleaning and examination for several weeks or months.

Visit a dentist in Encinitas, CA to learn more about oral cancer screenings

Encinitas, CA area patients can call Dr. Claudia Cortadi of Ablantis Dental to learn more about the advantages of regular oral cancer screenings during routine dental visits. The office is located at 351 Santa Fe Drive, Suite #110 and accepts new and returning patients considering general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry. Call (760) 334-0128 to request an appointment or oral cancer screening.