Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer is a frightening disease. It's often hard to spot, and it can be deadly if not treated early. Here's everything you need to know about oral cancer from us at Swansboro Family Dentistry, including common symptoms and how to get screened. Knowing the facts can help you protect yourself and your loved ones.
What is oral cancer, and what are its symptoms?
Oral cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the mouth. It can affect any part of the oral cavity, including the lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, roof, and floor of the mouth. Symptoms vary depending on where the cancer is located. Still, common symptoms include a sore or lump in the mouth that doesn't go away, difficulty swallowing or chewing food, teeth that become loose for no apparent reason, and a change in voice quality. If you notice any of these symptoms, please come see us or your dentist or doctor as soon as possible. Oral cancer is much more treatable when it's caught early.
Who is at risk for developing oral cancer?
Oral cancer can occur in anyone, but some factors increase your risk. Tobacco use is the number one risk factor for oral cancer, followed by alcohol consumption. Other risk factors include a family history of oral cancer, HPV infection, and excessive sun exposure. It's essential to be aware of these risks and take steps to protect yourself from them.
Screening for oral cancer is an integral part of prevention. We offer screenings at our practice, and you can also get screened through your dentist or doctor. If you're at high risk for oral cancer due to tobacco or alcohol use, we recommend getting screened every year. For everyone else, you should do screenings every two years.
How is oral cancer treated?
Oral cancer is treated with surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The type of treatment depends on the stage and location of cancer. Treatment can be expensive and time-consuming, but it's important to seek treatment as soon as possible for the best chance at remission.
Different stages of oral cancer progression
Stage 0: The cancer is confined to the lining of the mouth and can be easily removed with surgery.
Stage I: Cancer has spread into the deeper layers of the mouth but hasn't yet reached other parts of the body. Treatment usually involves surgery followed by radiation therapy.
Stage II: Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or tissues beyond the mouth. Treatment usually involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Stage III: Cancer has spread to other body parts, such as the lungs or brain. Treatment depends on where the cancer is located and may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Stage IV: This is the most advanced stage of the disease. Cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the liver or bones. Treatment usually involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
How can you reduce your risk of developing oral cancer?
Quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and protecting your lips from the sun are all good ways to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer. In addition, if you have a family history of oral cancer or if you've been diagnosed with HPV recently, we recommend getting screened every year so that we can catch any irregularities early on.
Please get in touch with us at 910-421-3022 if you have any questions about oral cancer or would like to schedule a screening. Our team at Swansboro Family Dentistry is dedicated to providing you with the best possible care. Oral cancer can be treated successfully when it's caught early, so please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any concerns.