Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer affects more than 53,000 Americans every year. Over a five-year period, an average of 35% of people who are diagnosed will pass away from it. However, with early detection, statistics have shown that the survival rate increases greatly with about 16% of people ultimately passing away from the disease. Because of this fact, catching oral cancer signs early on is the best way to increase your chance of survival.
While these facts are fairly cut and dry, what is less clear is how often one should be examined for oral cancer signs. We at Cooley Smiles firmly believe that this examination should happen every visit. No matter if you are coming in for a routine teeth cleaning or a more serious procedure, we will always screen you for signs of oral cancer to get you immediate treatment if we suspect it.
What Can I Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening?
The actual examination itself is very quick and noninvasive. One of our dentists will simply have you open your mouth and he or she will look all around inside. The gums, both sides of the tongue, the cheeks, and the throat are all examined to see if there are any abnormalities.
What Are Some Signs I Might Have Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer comes in many shapes and sizes. That is why it is so important to screen for it every time you come to our office. Abrasions or lesions, as well as discolored red or white spots that do not heal or go away are some of the more common signs of the disease. It can also manifest itself as pain in your mouth, throat, and even ears. Difficulty swallowing and loose teeth for no apparent reason are also signs of concern.
What Can You Do for Me if I Might Have Oral Cancer?
If, after our oral examination, we suspect you might have cancer, one of our dentists will immediately take a biopsy of the suspected cancerous tissue. Depending on where the abnormality is, we may be able to cut a small sample from it and have it analyzed in a laboratory to confirm the presence of cancer. However, if the area is in a difficult to reach area or would involve a lot of bleeding or pain, we would refer you to a surgeon to perform the biopsy.
When the biopsy results come back, if they are negative, we will continue treating you as normal. But if the results come back positive for cancer, then we will refer to one of many qualified oral cancer specialists.
Screening for oral cancer should be a routine part of every adult's oral health. Catching the warning signs early is the best way to ensure your maximum chance of survival. Aaron Cooley, DDS and Brandon Cooley, DDS have years of experience in the field and know what to look for. If you suspect you might have oral cancer, do not hesitate to call us at (425) 249-3509 to set up an appointment at your earliest convenience.