Did you know that nearly 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year? Cancers of the mouth historically had a high death rate because they are often harder to diagnose and discovered once they have progressed. Luckily, more dentists than ever are implementing oral cancer screenings as a part of their preventative dental services to improve early discovery. When you come to the office of Anjum A. Ansari DMD in Boston, MA, you can expect to receive a routine oral cancer screening during your exam and cleaning.
What are the risk factors for oral cancer?
While cancers of the mouth and neck can affect anyone at any age, there are individuals that are at a higher risk for developing these types of cancers. They are:
- Individuals who smoke or use chewing tobacco products
- Individuals with a history of prolonged sun exposure, especially to the face and mouth
- Individuals who consume copious amounts of alcohol
- Individuals with the HPV infection
- Older adults
- Gender – higher risk in males
- Individuals with fair skin
- Individuals with compromised immune systems
What are the signs of oral cancer?
Most individuals who are diagnosed with oral cancer are unaware they had it because the symptoms are not always easily noticed. Still, if you are at an increased risk for developing oral cancer, it is helpful to know what symptoms to look out for. They include:
- Mouth or lip sores that do not heal
- Red or white patches on the gums, tongue, or back of the throat
- Pain or bleeding without clear cause
- A feeling of something stuck in your throat
It is important to note that just because you develop any of these symptoms, it does not automatically mean you have oral cancer. If you do develop symptoms, make an appointment as soon as possible for evaluation.
Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer screenings are a fast, painless process. The first thing Dr. Ansari will do is a visual examination of the inside of the oral cavity as well as the outside of the mouth and lips. She will then use a gloved hand to physically inspect the inside of the mouth to detect any lumps that were not spotted visually. If anything is discovered, recommendations will be made for follow-up testing and evaluation.
If you would like to schedule a general check-up and mouth cancer test with Dr. Ansari, call (617) 581-0689.