Oral cancer may not be the most frequently occurring cancer, but it is still still a serious condition that affects over 34,000 Americans, with around 8,000 deaths experienced annually at the hands of oral cancer.
However, that does not mean it can be considered rare. Labeling something as rare undermines the seriousness of the disease and leads people to believe that they have no reason to be concerned with oral cancer if they have seemingly healthy teeth and gums. More dentists are offering oral cancer screenings to their patients, but the concern is that only 15 percent of people are actually opting to receive a screening.
Part of the problem surrounding the low number of individuals receiving regular screenings is perhaps due to a lack of understanding of what the symptoms of oral cancer are, as well as how an oral screening is conducted.
The Common Symptoms Associated With Oral Cancer
Oral cancer in its early stages can be quite deceptive, masking itself completely so the person experiences no pain or camouflaging itself to appear like an insignificant lesion or tissue caused by something minor like biting your tongue or the inside of your cheek. Here are the common symptoms you should watch for:
an ulcer or sore spot that doesn’t heal after 2 weeks
patches that appear inside the mouth that are either red or white
sudden pain, numbness, or bleeding
difficulty chewing or swallowing
a swollen jaw
The Process Of An Oral Cancer Screening
A dentist manually examines the inside of your mouth – focusing on the tongue, the floor of the mouth, and your lymph nodes. If something irregular is detected, they may do a biopsy just to ensure that they catch suspicious activity as early as possible, before it spreads and becomes more difficult to treat. Recently, dentists have had more access to resources designed to catch oral cancer at an earlier stage and without having to biopsy a suspicious area immediately, like carefully designed dyes and lights that can determine whether something is natural or cause for action.
Patients who use tobacco, alcohol, or have a history of oral cancer within their family should make screenings a priority, but everyone would benefit from regular oral cancer screenings, especially senior patients or individuals who struggle with poor oral health.
While competitors charge for oral cancer screenings, Onsite Dentists Of Texas offers them to their patients for free. We believe that oral health should be affordable and that everyone should have equal access to care that works to protect and prolong their health.