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The Importance of Oral Cancer Screening

The Importance of Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer goes by many names: mouth cancer, oral cavity cancer, lip cancer, or gum cancer. Regardless of what name you hear, know that oral cancer refers to any cancer that affects the mouth, lips, gums, roof of your mouth, your tongue, and the area under your tongue. 

Oral cancer screenings are designed to detect cancerous lesions in any of these areas.

Below,  Dr. Lovely Manlapaz Teodoro of The Dental Center of Hercules shares five reasons why oral cancer screenings are important. 

1. Oral cancer can affect individuals of any sex or race

Oral cancer isn’t limited to one gender or race or age bracket. It can affect virtually anyone, which is why screenings are so important. While oral cancer can affect both men and women, the American Cancer Foundation reports that men are twice as likely to develop this cancer than women. 

2. Oral screenings lead to early detection

Like all cancers, oral cancer is easier to treat when detected early. Oral cancer screenings are the best way to detect potential oral cancers before it has a chance to spread to other places in your body. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, treating oral cancer is much more simple when the cancer is localized to one spot in the mouth. Discovering oral cancer after it has already spread throughout the body requires more complex cancer treatments. 

3. Oral cancer screenings can detect repeated bouts of oral cancer

Oral cancer screenings aren’t just for individuals who have never had oral cancer. Oral cancer screenings can continue to benefit those who have already had oral cancer because individuals with previous oral cancer lesions are 20% more likely to develop a future oral cancer lesion when compared to those who have never had oral cancer. Screenings help catch any potential signs of a recurrent lesion so that you can receive treatment as quickly as possible.

4. Oral cancer screenings are most beneficial to at-risk individuals

Heavy alcohol use and any tobacco usages (including smoking cigarettes and using chewing tobacco) can increase the risk of oral cancer. Smoking increases your risk of more than 12 types of cancer, including oral cancer. Individuals who smoke cigarettes are 10 times more likely to develop cancerous lesions in the mouth

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol increases your risk of mouth cancer as well as throat cancer, larynx cancer, and esophagus cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that these risks are compounded when smoking and drinking at the same time.

5. Oral cancer screenings pick up red flags even before you have painful symptoms

If a lump or lesion is painful, you’re more likely to reach out for medical attention. However, not all symptoms of oral cancer can cause pain. Oral cancer can present in many ways, many of which are easily mistaken for other conditions. White patches, wiggly teeth, and sores are all different ways cancerous cells can appear in your mouth. 

Oral cancer screenings can be performed during your regular dental appointments.

During your oral cancer screening, Dr. Teodoro inspects all parts of your mouth (including your gums, teeth, tongue, and cheeks) in just a few minutes. 

You don’t need to wait until your next appointment

If you notice any of the signs of oral cancer, you don’t need to wait until your next cleaning for an oral cancer screening. If you notice any of the following, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Teodoro: 

We know that thinking about any type of cancer can be overwhelming or even scary. However, many of these symptoms can be caused by other conditions. For example, white patches can be caused by oral thrush, a type of fungal infection. But remember that early detection can save lives, and we’re here to ensure that you get the care you need when you need it.

To schedule an oral cancer screening, schedule your appointment with Dr. Teodoro at our Hercules, California, office. You can reach us at 510-254-3328 or through our online booking system. 

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