The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that more than 54,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal (throat) cancer this year. Oral cancer will be to blame for more than 13,500 deaths. Unfortunately, oral cancer is often fatal not because it is hard to diagnose, but because it is diagnosed too late. That’s why a screening for oral cancer in San Antonio is conducted at each dental checkup.
Oral Cancer Risks
There are certain behaviors that increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Most notable among those—according to the American Cancer Society—is tobacco use, whether smoked or chewed. Combining cigarettes, cigars, pipes or chewing tobacco with too many alcoholic beverages increases that risk even more.
Some other risk factors are:
- Excessive sun exposure on your lips and face
- A family history of cancer
- Previously having been diagnosed with oral cancer
- HPV Infection
- Poor nutrition that is low in fruits and vegetables
The Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Your San Antonio dentist is trained to recognize the early warning signs of oral cancer. However, you should also be familiar with them. If you see anything that looks or feels suspicious, then please schedule an appointment. Don’t wait for your next checkup, because the sooner oral cancer is found the better!
The early signs and symptoms of oral cancer are:
- A sore anywhere in your mouth or on your lips that has not healed for more than two weeks
- A red or white patch that can be smooth or rough
- A lump or thicker area of soft tissue
- A sore throat or hoarse voice that will not go away
- A numb feeling in your mouth or on your tongue
- Ill-fitting dentures
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- An earache, but no infection
Velscope® for Oral Cancer Screening
In addition to looking for visible signs and feeling for any lumps, there is also a technologically advanced system called Velscope to detect early cancers that cannot be seen or felt. The handheld instrument uses natural tissue fluorescence to inspect the mouth and tongue. A harmless blue light causes abnormal tissue to naturally fluoresce, indicating where there may be a precancerous or cancerous growth.
Reduce The Risk for Oral Cancer
Aside from seeing the dentist for regular checkups that include an oral cancer screening, you can stop using smoking and chewing tobacco or don’t start, limit alcoholic beverages, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoid exposing your lips to the sun or use lip balm with SPF. Call the dentist today to schedule an appointment–the life you save may be your own.
About the Practice
At New Image Dentistry, we have five dental experts to help solve and treat your oral and dental health. We also care about your general health, which is why an oral cancer screening is performed at each dental checkup. For any questions or to schedule an appointment, visit our website or contact us at 210-880-0212.