Oral Cancer Screenings
New Orleans, LA
Helping You Benefit from Early Detection
Rates of oral cancer are on the rise in the United States, with more and more young and otherwise healthy people succumbing to this disease every year. Did you know that even patients who have never smoked a cigarette before in their lives are still at risk of developing oral cancer? Fortunately, routine screenings save lives through early detection. Keep reading to learn more about oral cancer, including why regular screenings just make sense. Then, contact us to book an exam for you or someone you love!
Causes of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can creep by undetected for months or even years until it is finally caught -- and by then, the chances of successful treatment are already greatly diminished. The most common cause of oral cancer is smoking or tobacco use, but the rates of oral cancer are rising, especially for young men, due to the increase in the human papillomavirus (HPV). You or your loved one may not notice a problematic area at first, which is why it is so vital to schedule an oral cancer screening annually (or as often as we recommend).
What Does My Dentist Look For?
During an oral cancer screening, your dentist is looking for anything unusual that may indicate the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells. This includes any of the following:
- Irregular lumps, bumps, or sore spots that do not heal for over two weeks
- Oddly-colored patches, like white or red spots on the soft tissues of the mouth
- Changing symmetry of the face
- Numbness in the facial or neck region
- The feeling that something is caught in your throat (reported verbally)
- And other irregularities
What to Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening
An oral cancer screening is a visual, tactile, and verbal examination of your mouth, throat, and cheeks. It usually does not take long to complete and can be performed at the end of a regular checkup and cleaning.
You will begin the exam by answering certain questions about your oral health -- after all, no one knows about it better than you do. If you have experienced any changes that you believe are unusual or otherwise notable, be sure to make them known.
After the brief question and answer session, your dentist will proceed by gently feeling for any lumps or bumps in the facial region. You will also need to open your mouth so the interior can be checked. If something unusual is detected, we will offer next-steps tailored to your situation. An unusual lump, for example, may just need to be monitored for a few weeks. A lesion that has not healed after two weeks, on the other hand, will almost certainly require a biopsy.
If cancerous cells do exist, early detection will greatly increase the chances of successful treatment -- so you can get back to living your life.