The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral Cancer Screenings
Cancer is one of the world’s deadliest diseases: per year in the United States, 439.2 people in every 100,000 are diagnosed with a form of cancer, and each year 163.5 people per 100,000 die from the disease. More than 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer alone every single year.
Oral cancer includes cancers of the cheeks, tongue, lips, palate, throat, sinuses, gums, and floor of the mouth. Like other types of cancer, oral cancer can be deadly if it isn’t diagnosed quickly. For a quick diagnosis, oral cancer screenings are of paramount importance.
We’ve going to take a closer look at oral cancer and cancer screenings, to show you the importance of staying one step ahead of oral cancer and getting screened for the potentially deadly disease on a regular basis.
Identify Mouth Cancer Early
Oral cancer screenings are a very simple process where a dentist checks the mouth for any signs that cancer or precancerous signs are present. This exam can also be performed by a doctor.
The main goal and greatest benefit of oral cancer screenings is to identify oral cancer as early as possible. The sooner that cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chances are that it can be cured.
When a dentist identifies the presence of cancer or signs of precancerous lesions, monitoring and treatment can begin immediately. The dentist may request that the patient returns for a second appointment shortly after the screening to check for developments and arrange a biopsy to test for cancer.
Early identification of cancer opens the door to a much greater variety of treatment options, which is much better in every regard for the patient. When oral cancer is diagnosed early, the survival rate is extremely high.
Screenings Starting at High School Age
Oral cancer is most common in people over the age of 55, with the average age of oral cancer diagnosis being 62. Two-thirds of all oral cancer cases are in patients over 55, of which the vast majority are men – the disease is twice as prevalent in males as it is in females.
While oral cancer isn’t common in younger people, it’s still possible to contract oral cancer at a very young age. Around 1 in 8 cases of oral cancer affect people under the age of 50, which is still a large number.
Due to the potential of getting oral cancer early in life, it’s important to attend screenings as soon as they’re available. For high school students, college students and beyond, oral cancer screenings are available and should be attended!
Oropharyngeal Cancer / Throat Cancer
For people who smoke tobacco or have a history of smoking, it’s even more important to attend an oral cancer screening at a local dental clinic. Smoking is one of the factors that can increase the risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer, or throat cancer.
Oropharyngeal cancer develops behind the mouth in the center of the throat (pharynx), where cancer cells will begin to grow in the throat tissue. Signs that a person has oropharyngeal cancer include ear pain, weight loss, soreness, difficulty swallowing and coughing blood.
Cancer screenings are incredibly important for identifying this type of cancer so it can be diagnosed and treated without delay.
Increase in Oral Cancer Cases
Now more than ever before it’s important to visit your local dentist for an oral cancer screening. It’s estimated that 53,000 individuals will be diagnosed with oropharyngeal or oral cancer in the US in 2019, and there will be a total of 10,860 deaths from oral cancer in the same year.
The number of oropharyngeal cancer cases that are connected to HPV infections are rising in the US. There are also increases in the rates of mouth cancer cases elsewhere in the world. In the UK, rates of mouth cancer per 100,000 people rose by 32% for men and 33% for women between 2002 and 2012.
How Often Should You Have an Oral Cancer Screening?
Compared to some other types of cancer, oral cancers have a particularly high death rate. The death rate is thought to be so high because oral cancer is often discovered at a late stage. This is something that regular oral cancer screenings can help to combat.
For oral cancer diagnosed early on, there’s an 84% survival rate over 5 years, compared to an average 5-year survival rate of 65%: these statistics highlight how important it is to visit a dentist regularly for checks.
The recommended regularity of oral cancer screenings is every 3 years, although this increases to every year for people aged 40+. Different dentists may make different recommendations, all depending on the patient. If a person notices any signs of oral cancer during a self exam – which should be conducted around once every month – then they should contact their dentist without delay.
Oral Cancer Screening Process & What to Expect
Oral cancer screenings are a fairly quick and painless procedure that a dentist can perform during a standard dental checkup. The process involves the dentist checking for signs of unusually colored sores and patches, lumps, spots and abnormalities inside the mouth.
The dentist will also check a person’s lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, chin, jaw and the roof and back of their throat. The main goal is to find anything abnormal. Overall, the process should take no more than around 5 minutes.
To help with the examination, a dentist may also use a screening dye which can dye certain cells in the mouth blue or a screening light that highlights abnormal tissue.
Oral Cancer Screenings at Beautiful Smiles Dental Center
You don’t need to travel far or take much time out of your day to have an oral cancer screening, visit Beautiful Smiles Dental Center for the screening.
Beautiful Smiles Dental Center specializes in preventive, cosmetic, and emergency dental services. You can visit our dental practice in Gurnee, IL for oral exams, cancer screenings and all the dental services that you need to maintain a bright and healthy smile.