Oral Cancer Screenings
We love to have fun and joke around with our patients. There needs to be more fun in this world, don’t you think? But cancer is not a laughing matter. If you look around any room, you can see people whose lives have been touched by cancer. Over half of any room of people have had a family member receive a diagnosis of cancer. A third of us have known someone who died from cancer.
More than 80% of all of us have a friend or a member of their family who was diagnosed with cancer. The disease is common - which is why we want to do our part to stop it in its tracks. One thing that we can do is screen you for oral cancer. Queen Anne Family Dental already screens you for mouth cancer twice a year every year. Let us talk to you for a minute about the importance of oral cancer screening.
The Facts About Mouth Cancer
More than 37,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mouth cancer every year. Nearly 100,000 Americans currently have oral cancer. Around 10,000 will die this year from the effects of mouth cancer. Men are twice as likely as women to develop mouth cancer. If you smoke or drink heavily, you are putting yourself in a higher risk category for oral cancer. If you have had the human papillomavirus, you are also at a higher risk of oral cancer.
Also, if you sunburned heavily when you were younger, without putting lip protection on, you have a greater chance of getting oral cancer. Oral cancer not only causes death, but it can be very disfiguring. People with oral cancer often have to have portions of their teeth, gums, or jaw removed to fight cancer.
Luckily, there is some good news. If you catch mouth cancer early, the success rate is much higher than for other cancers. Early detection and early treatment lead to greater patient outcomes. However, the cancer is difficult to catch in its initial stages, because it is not painful, and is difficult to spot. By the time you notice something in your mouth is painful, the cancer is more difficult to treat. The earlier we can detect cancer, the faster we can get you treated, and you can begin your recovery.
We can screen quite easily for mouth cancer. We will look closely at your mouth and all of the structures of your mouth when we do your exam every six months. While we are checking you for cavities, we also look for spots or bumps that shouldn’t be there on your gums, cheeks, and your palate. We also look at your mouth structures via x-ray to look for abnormalities.
Not all spots and bumps in your mouth are mouth cancer. There are many spots and bumps, such as canker sores or mouth ulcers, that are completely harmless. If we examine your mouth, and we see a suspicious place in your mouth, we will do more testing. We can have you rinse your mouth with a blue solution, and then shine a light in your mouth. This makes any suspicious spots show up. We may shine a special light in your mouth to look for cancer.
If we are worried you have mouth cancer, we will do a biopsy to double-check. Then we will know how best to get your cancer treated. Are you worried that you might have mouth cancer? Stop worrying. Let Queen Anne Family Dental at (206) 424-4450 give your mouth a good looking over. We know we can make you feel better.