Although oral cancer makes up only a small portion of annual cancer cases, it is still a serious problem. Since cancerous lesions in the mouth are easily mistaken for other kinds of sores or overlooked as they develop, they’re often not detected until the later stages of the disease.
That is why oral cancer screening is a part of every exam by the Mount Prospect family dentist . Oral cancer cases that are diagnosed in the early stages of development have a significantly improved survival rate — up to 80% after five years.
What we Look For During a Screening
The most important factor for early detection is your own observations while performing oral hygiene. A lesion can occur anywhere in your mouth. The main areas of concern are:
- The tongue, particularly the sides and underneath
- The lips, especially the lower lip
- The oral cavity (the mouth) in general
- The pharynx (back of mouth and throat)
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
The following risk factors can’t be changed, but the Mount Prospect family dentist knows that awareness raises your vigilance so potential problems can be addressed early, when treatment options and positive outcomes are greatest.
Aging – More than 90% of all oral cancers occur in individuals over 40. However, the incidence among younger people has been on the uptick recently, perhaps related to lifestyle behaviors.
Race – African Americans have a higher incidence of oral cancer than Caucasians.
The following are risk factors that can and should be addressed:
- Smoking and chewing tobacco – Smokers are at five to nine times greater risk for developing oral cancer
- Alcohol – Moderate to heavy drinkers are at three to nine times greater risk; the higher the alcohol content, the greater the risk
- Diet – A high intake of fruits/vegetables, which are high in antioxidants, has been found to have a protective effect against a variety of cancers, including oral.
- Chronic sun exposure – Often connected with lip cancers.
As part of your routine oral hygiene, you should closely monitor any changes in your mouth that don’t diminish in a few days, e.g., ulcers, sores, or white or red patches on the tongue. We care about your overall wellness, so our dentist always performs an oral cancer screening as part of your regular check-ups.
Please Contact Us for More Information
We want to do everything possible to keep your oral health and your general health on track. Please contact us to arrange your next exam, including an oral cancer screening.