April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Dentists want people to know that oral cancer is serious, but it can be treated. The earlier it is detected, the better possibility of a good outcome for the patient. Let’s talk about detecting and treating oral cancer.
When you go to the dentist for an oral cancer screening, he or she will look for abnormalities in your mouth. The concern is not limited to your teeth and gums, but to all the tissues inside your mouth, cheeks and lips. Your dentist should examine the roof of your mouth and your tongue as part of a cancer screening.
Self-examination between visits is also important. You can also look for abnormalities or lesions in your mouth. These self-examinations should not replace good dental care. You should watch for:
However, many of these symptoms are indicative of other health problems. If you are experiencing problems with your mouth, you should make an appointment with your dental care provider. You may need a biopsy and clinical evaluation to diagnose the cancer. The doctor may also order an MRI or CT scan to determine the path of the cancer. Once you have a diagnosis of cancer, you and your dentist can discuss treatment options. Generally, oral cancer is treated through surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Almost 75 percent of oral cancers are related to alcohol or tobacco use. If you smoke or drink heavily, you can reduce your risk of oral cancer by limiting your use of those products. Current research shows that having HPV can increase the risk of oral cancer. Maintaining good oral health and keeping up with your regular dental cleanings are good ways to reduce your risk, too. For oral cancer screening and treatment in Chandler, AZ, make an appointment with our office today.