Why is Oral Cancer Screening Important?
County Dental at New City, NY advises their patients to get an oral cancer screening, and ensure that they are taking all the precautions necessary to prevent oral cancer. Choosing to have an oral cancer screening is the best precaution you can take to ensure your overall health.
County Dental at New City recommends that a screening should be scheduled periodically, especially if your family has a history of oral cancer. Getting an oral cancer screening at can help ensure that you are taking the right steps towards preventing complications in the future. The key to beating cancer is early detection. Your mouth, just like the rest of your body, can potentially be at risk. Even if you feel that you may not have a reason to get an oral cancer screening, it is never unwise to take the precaution. County Dental at New City will arm you with all the information you will need about oral cancer to help determine if you should schedule an oral cancer screening.
What is Oral Cancer?
Cancer begins in cells, the building blocks that make up tissues. Tissues make up the organs of the body. Normal cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When normal cells grow old or get damaged, they die, and new cells take their place. Sometimes, this process goes wrong. New cells form when the body doesn’t need them, and old or damaged cells don’t die as they should. A growth, or tumor, is caused by the buildup of extra cells often forms a mass of tissue.
Oral cancer cells begin in the flat cells that cover the surfaces of the mouth, tongue, and lips. Oral cancer cells can spread by breaking away from the original tumor and enter the blood vessels or lymph vessels, which branch into all the tissues of the body. The cancer cells may attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage those tissues.
The Types of Tumors and Stages of Oral Cancer
There are two types of tumors that your cells can develop. Benign tumors, which are rarely a threat to life, can be removed easily, and usually do not grow back. They also do not invade other tissues or spread to other parts of the body. The second type of growth tumors are defined as malignant tumors. Malignant tumors may be a threat to life, can grow back after they are removed, and can invade and cause damage to other parts of the body.
Oral Cancer is diagnosed in stages. The stage of oral cancer is based on the size of the tumor, whether it has invaded nearby tissues, and whether it has spread to the lymph nodes or other tissues. Stage I or II oral cancer is usually a small tumor (smaller than a walnut), and no cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes. Stage III or IV oral cancer is usually a large tumor (as big as a lime). The cancer may have invaded nearby tissues or spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Tobacco use leads to most cases of oral cancer. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, or using smokeless tobacco (such as snuff and chewing tobacco) causes oral cancer. For cigarette smokers, the risk of oral cancer increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day.
Heavy alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of developing oral cancer. The risk is greater for people who use both tobacco and alcohol than for those who use only tobacco or only alcohol. Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause oral cancer to develop on the lips. Wearing a hat with a brim, or lip balm with a high SPF can help prevent the development of oral cancer. For more tips on how to protect yourself from the development of oral cancer, contact us at County Dental at New City.
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
County Dental at New City dentists and staff believe in providing our patients with the information that they need to keep their smile healthy. Below we provide a list of signs and symptoms to look for if you think you may be developing oral cancer. Schedule an appointment if you experience any of these symptoms. County Dental at New City can then treat the diagnosis as early as possible.
Symptoms of oral cancer may include:
- Patches inside your mouth or on your lips
- White patches are the most common. White patches sometimes become malignant
- Mixed red and white patches are more likely than white patches to become malignant
- Red patches are brightly colored, smooth areas that often become malignant
- A sore on your lip or in your mouth that doesn’t heal
- Bleeding in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
- Difficulty wearing dentures
- A lump in your neck
- An ear ache that doesn’t go away
- Numbness of lower lip and chin
Prevention and Treatment Options
People with early oral cancer may be treated with surgery or radiation therapy. People with advanced oral cancer may have a combination of treatments. For example, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are often given at the same time. Another treatment option is targeted therapy. The choice of treatment depends mainly on your general health, where in your mouth or throat the cancer began, the size of the tumor, and whether the cancer has spread.
The best way to prevent oral cancer is to eliminate the use of tobacco and heavy alcohol consumption. By maintaining your oral hygiene habits of brushing, flossing, and your six month cleaning at one of our offices, you will be able to keep your smile healthy.
Scheduling an oral health care screening at County Dental at New City will give you the peace of mind of consulting with our dental professionals to ensure your smile is getting the care it deserves.
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