Oral cancer can affect anyone from any race, background, or age. Oral cancer may affect the lips, oral cavity including your gums, inside lining of your cheeks, hard palate, and the front two thirds of your tongue. It can also affect the soft pallet, the back of the tongue, throat and tonsils. Regular oral examinations help your dentist to track any changes in your mouth and surrounding tissues. If caught early oral cancer can be treated and the survival rate is very good.
Oral Cancer Risks
Your lifestyle choices greatly affect your risk for developing oral cancer. People who drink heavily and smoke have a 70 to 80 percent chance of developing oral cancer than people who do not. Men are more likely than women to develop oral cancer, as are people over 55. If you have a suppressed immune system or HPV you are at greater risk. Prolonged exposure to the sun ups your risk of developing oral cancer in the lips. There is a greater incidence of oral cancer in Southeast and South Asia because of the use of gutka. This is a combination of betel quid (a betel leaf wrapped around lime and areca nut) and tobacco.
Oral Cancer Screening
The best way to prevent cancer is to make healthy lifestyle choices. Regular dental exams are also a hedge of protection against oral cancer. During regular dental exams your dentist will note any changes in the health of your mouth. Some of the things he looks for are lesions; leukoplakia which is abnormal white patches or cells or erythroplakia which is an abnormal red patch of cells. Both of these conditions may develop into oral cancer.
Your dentist may use different methods to screen you for oral cancer. These include the following:
- Toluidine blue stain may be used to coat lesions in the mouth with blue dye. Darker areas may be more likely to develop into cancer or become cancer.
- Fluorescence staining uses a special light to look into your mouth for abnormal tissue after you rinse with a fluorescent mouth rinse.
- Exfoliative cytology is used to examine cells under a microscope. A small wooden stick, brush, or a piece of cotton is used to gently scrape cells from your lips, mouth, tongue, and or throat.
- Brush biopsy collects all layers of a lesion with a brush that is specially designed for this procedure. The cells are then examined under a microscope.
Oral cancer screening can help to spot cancer or precancerous cells and give you a better chance of survival and recovery. Contact Market Street Family Dental today and make an appointment for oral cancer screening. You owe it to yourself and your family to be proactive about your oral and overall good health.