How Important Is Oral Cancer Screening?
Have you been tested for any cancers? There are many types of screening, but one of the most important ones is oral cancer screening. This is especially true if you're a high-risk candidate due to smoking cigarettes or tobacco chewing, for example.
What Is Oral Cancer?
It all starts with having a good understanding of what oral/mouth cancer is. This is the case when a tumor develops within the mouth’s lining. This can exist in various parts of the mouth including the tongue, cheeks, palate (roof), gums, or lips.
It's also possible for tumors to develop in the glands that make saliva, tonsils located in the back of the mouth, and the area that connects the mouth to the windpipe. These types of oral cancer are less common, but you should be aware of this info so you can detect cancer in those areas.
What Are Oral Cancer Screenings?
The good news is there are various types of screening for oral cancer. It involves a dentist/doctor searching for signs of cancer in the mouth. The goal of the screening is to detect cancer as soon as possible, so there's a better chance for cure.
The screening is usually done during routine dental checkups to check for oral cancer. Various other tests might be used by dentists to determine if there are abnormal cells located in the patient’s mouth.
Should healthy people with low risk of getting mouth cancer also be screened? It’s an issue that medical organizations often debate about. There’s no particular oral test or screening that has been proven to lower the risk of dying via oral cancer. However, it might be determined that an oral exam is a good option based on the risk factors a patient has.
Why Are Oral Cancer Screenings Done?
You might be wondering why oral/mouth cancer screenings are done and why they're important. The goal of the screening is to detect mouth cancer or tumors that could result in mouth cancer later. It's important to detect cancer at early stages since cancer/tumors are the easiest to remove and cure at that time.
However, there are no studies that prove screenings for oral cancer saves lives. Thus, there's some debate among organizations about the benefits of oral exams done for oral cancer screening. Some groups promote screening and others that don't. It's possible that people who are at a higher risk of acquiring oral cancer might benefit more from cancer screening.
It’s important to know the various factors that boost the risk for oral cancer. They include:
- Past diagnosis
- Sun exposure
If you're affected by these factors, then you should consider screening for oral cancer. It's also a good idea to consult your dentist about whether or not oral cancer screening is practical for you. You should talk him/her about ways you can lower your risk of getting oral cancer. That can include avoiding alcohol or quitting smoking. This will give you a better chance of preventing mouth cancer.