How Is an Oral Cancer Screening Conducted?

How Is an Oral Cancer Screening Conducted?

February 1, 2023

An oral cancer screening helps the dental office near you detect signs of cancer in your mouth. The practitioners at the office will examine your cheek linings, gums, lips, tongue, floor, and roof of your mouth, looking for lesions and abnormalities. If the practitioners detect anything suspicious, they will refer you to an oncologist for additional testing.

Oral Cancer Screening Explained

Oral cancer screening exams look for signs of cancer in your mouth. Oral cancers include cancers of the jaw, mouth, and tongue. The area examined during oral cancer screenings consists of the roof and floor of your mouth, cheek lining, gums, lips, tongue, and tonsils.

How Many Steps Are Involved in Oral Cancer Screening?

Examining the area of the mouth described above is the only step involved in oral cancer screening. The dentist in Tampa completes the exam in minutes without you even realizing why the dentist is examining particular areas when they are supposed to concentrate on your teeth and gums. The dentist performs the screening to detect cancer before symptoms develop. If the dentist detects oral cancer in the early stages, better treatment outcomes are likely.

Why Is an Oral Cancer Screening Essential?

Oral cancer is a common problem affecting the head and neck, making people around the globe vulnerable to the condition. Approximately 60,000 Americans receive a diagnosis of oral and oropharyngeal cancer every year.

The five-year survival rate of oral cancer is around 57 percent indicating just over 50 percent of people diagnosed with this condition survive beyond five years after diagnosis. Oral cancer is not challenging to diagnose. Unfortunately, fatality rates are high because the cancer isn’t detected in the early stages and is often found late in its development. Oral cancer screenings are optimal tools available for early detection and treatment.

Can a Dentist Identify Signs of Oral Cancer?

Many healthcare providers can identify signs of oral cancer by performing screenings. However, your dentist is the professional you meet at least twice a year, and they receive training to look for suspicious lesions in your mouth to identify the signs of oral cancer. However, you must remember oral cancer screenings don’t diagnose cancer. The dentist merely performs the screening by looking for cancer signs. If they detect suspicious lesions, they refer you to an oncologist, a cancer specialist, for additional testing, diagnosis, and treatment.

What to Expect During Oral Cancer Screenings?

When undergoing oral cancer screening in Tampa, FL, expect the dentist to combine various oral cancer screening methods, including a visual exam, palpation, oral cancer dyes, and light. They also capture images of abnormal areas to monitor them. However, the screening requires five minutes or less to complete.

The dentist will look for lesions in your mouth and throat during the visual exam. The abnormalities may include leukoplakia indicating white patches, or erythroplakia, indicating abnormally red areas. The dentist will also use fingers to feel lumps and bumps around your face, neck, and jaw. If you have sore or tender spots, you must inform the dentist about them.

The dentist might also use oral cancer screening dyes to look for signs of oral cancer. They will coat any lesions with the dye to help identify areas that will likely become cancerous. Unique lights are also available to identify abnormal tissues in your mouth. When using the light, the dentist requests that you rinse your mouth with fluorescent mouthwash and then shine the light in your mouth, which makes healthy tissue appear dark and abnormal tissue white.

What Happens After Oral Cancer Screenings?

As mentioned earlier, the screenings merely look for signs of oral cancer. However, you will need additional testing to get an official diagnosis of oral cancer. After oral cancer screenings, the dentist will share their findings with you. If the screening indicates the presence of oral cancer, they refer you to an oncologist for further testing, which may include cytology and a biopsy. The dentist also recommends a follow-up visit in a week to examine whether the lesions have changed or healed by themselves.

Please schedule an Appointment with Our Dentist in Tampa

If you are in the high-risk category and indulge in habits like excessive smoking, consumption of alcohol, are exposed to sunlight, or HIV AIDS, you must schedule an appointment with Dr. Eric Boe, DMD, the dentist in Tampa, to receive oral cancer screenings to detect signs of oral cancer in your mouth in the early stages. The screening is not stressful and completed by the dentist within minutes. However, it gives you peace of mind knowing nothing is wrong in your mouth.

Westbay dental — Tampa performs oral cancer screenings on all patients arriving at their practice for routine exams and cleanings. Consult this practice if you are the vulnerable group to receive oral cancer screenings to benefit your dental and general health.

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