Oral cancer is a serious disease that can affect any of the soft tissues in the mouth, and quickly spread throughout the rest of the body because of the mouth's proximity to lymph nodes. An oral cancer screening at our Seaford or Wilmington locations can help doctors diagnose the disease in its earliest stages, when it is most easily treatable.
At Brown and Baran Family Dentistry, Drs. Paul E. Brown, Christopher S. Baran, and Mark B. Brown use meticulous techniques to perform highly accurate oral cancer screenings, in which the smallest tissue irregularities may be detected. This important exam could save your life.
What Is Oral Cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, over 48,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. The disease occurs when cells inside the mouth divide and multiply rapidly, causing irregular growths and lesions. Cancerous tissue may appear on the lips, tongue, soft palate, floor of the mouth, gums, tonsils, or back of the throat.
This disease can affect anyone, but men are more likely to develop oral cancer than women. Smoking and excess drinking can dramatically increase your risk, and the threat is even higher if you both drink and smoke. Exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV) is another major cause of oral cancer. Additional factors that can increase your likelihood of cancer include genetics, exposure to UV light, age, and a weakened immune system, among other things.
What Happens during an Oral Cancer Screening?
Your oral cancer screening will typically occur at the same time as your routine dental exam and cleaning. However, if you notice any worrisome symptoms, you should contact us immediately. During your screening, your dentist will visually check for any oral cancer symptoms. These may include:
- White, red or speckled patches on soft tissues
- Sores that do not heal after two weeks
- A hardening or thickening of soft tissues
Your dentist will also ask if you have experienced any additional symptoms, including:
- Persistent sore throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Jaw stiffness
- Tongue stiffness or pain
- Ear pain
- Changes in the way your dentures fit
- Unexplained weight loss
If your dentist detects any sores or lesions, he will order a biopsy. After he takes a small tissue sample, a trusted lab will analyze it to provide a definitive diagnosis.
Often, mouth sores turn out to be harmless, or they may be a symptom of a less serious condition, such as gum disease. However, if you do have cancer, we will work alongside your treatment team to ensure compassionate, effective, and comprehensive care.
Why Are Oral Cancer Screenings So Important?
An estimated 9,570 oral cancer patients will die this year. Over the next five years, only slightly more than fifty percent of all patients will survive. This high mortality rate is primarily due to late diagnoses.
In its early stages, oral cancer does not usually produce noticeable symptoms. Therefore, patients may go undiagnosed until the disease has already spread. This is why it is so vital that you receive regular screenings.
Our dentists can identify the earliest symptoms so that you can receive lifesaving treatment while the cancer is still localized.
Schedule Your Screening Today
An oral cancer screening could be the most important medical exam of your life. Contact one of our three Delaware locations to book your appointment today.