Oral Cancer Screening: Detect and Treat Early

Woman receiving an oral examination by a dentist. Early detection is the surest way to overcome oral cancer. Dr. Teddi Olszewski will perform an oral cancer screening during all routine dental exams at her Northampton, MA, practice. We provide oral cancer screenings as part of every six-month checkup to help you maintain optimal oral and overall health. If it has been a while since your last check-up, schedule your appointment today, to make sure that you are one step ahead of oral cancer. 

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer, which is sometimes called oral cavity cancer or mouth cancer, is one of several types of head and neck cancers. It can affect the lips, gums, tongue, roof or floor of the mouth, and inside of the cheek. Fortunately, if discovered and treated early, oral cancer has a high remission rate.

An oral cancer screening is performed to detect early signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in the mouth. If discovered and treated early, oral cancer has a high remission rate.

Signs and Symptoms

Although not a conclusive indication of oral cancer, some common symptoms may include:

  • A persistent mouth sore that does not heal
  • A lump or thickening of the skin or lining of the mouth
  • White or reddish patches on the inside of the mouth
  • Jaw pain or stiffness
  • Loose teeth
  • Dentures that suddenly do not fit
  • Tongue pain
  • A sore throat
  • Difficulty or pain while chewing or swallowing

If you experience any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, you should contact us as soon as possible.

Risk Factors

Scientists are still trying to determine what causes abnormal cancer cells to form in the mouth. However, there are some factors that doctors have identified as placing patients at a higher risk for oral cancer. These may include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Being over the age of 40
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Excessive sun exposure to the lips
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)

If you are concerned that you may be at a greater risk for oral cancer, Dr. Olszewski can review these factors with you. 

Oral Cancer Screening Process

During this brief screening, we will thoroughly examine your lips and mouth, looking for sores or white patches, also known as leukoplakia. We will also examine the tissues in your mouth for lumps or other abnormalities. 

If any abnormal tissue is detected, a biopsy may be recommended. If a biopsy is performed, we will gently remove a sample of the suspicious cells, which will then be sent to a laboratory for further testing.

Benefits of Oral Cancer Screening

An oral cancer screening is performed to detect early signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in the mouth. This does not mean that Dr. Olszewski believes you have cancer. The screening is simply a precautionary measure, intended to find and treat cancer cells in their early stage. As with most medical conditions, the earlier that pre-cancerous cells are found and treated, the greater the chance of successful treatment and recovery.

Contact Us Today

At Northampton Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we believe that prevention is the key to good oral health. Regular dental exams not only keep your teeth and mouth healthy and clean, but can also save your life. Contact our office to schedule your exam and oral cancer screening.

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