The Importance of Oral Cancer Screening

The Importance of Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer screening by your dentist or doctor will help detect any signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth in order to give you a better chance for a cure. Most dentists will perform an examination of your mouth during a routine dental visit to screen for oral cancer.  The dentist will look inside your mouth to check for red or white patches or mouth sores, and will check for any lumps or other abnormalities in the tissue.  Some dentists will use additional advanced technology such as fluorescence technology to highlight any changes in your mouth that may not be perceived by the naked eye to detect abnormal cells in your mouth.

In the past, some of these advanced oral cancer screening technologies required the use of rinses and dyes during a 10-minute timeframe.  The most recent technological advances in oral screening utilize a new fluorescence (blue light) technology that does not require rinses and dyes, and can be done in a two-minute window. Some of the top cancer centers in the nation are using this fluorescence technology to detect oral cancer early.

Why is Oral Cancer Screening Done?

The goal of oral cancer screening is to detect mouth cancer, pre-cancer or oral lesions early when cancer or lesions are easiest to remove and most likely to be cured in order to save lives. People with a high risk of oral cancer may benefit the most from advanced technology screening methods.  Those most high at risk include:

  • Individuals who use tobacco of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, among others
  • Individuals who have heavy alcohol use on a regular basis
  • Patients with a previous cancer diagnosis
  • Patients with significant sun exposure, which may increase the risk of lip cancer.

If your dentist discovers any signs of mouth cancer or precancerous lesions, he or she may recommend:

  • A follow-up appointment to see if the abnormal tissue is still there or has changed or grown over time.
  • A biopsy procedure done by your dentist or by a referral to a doctor who specializes in oral cancer to remove cells for further examination in a laboratory.

Old Mt. Pleasant Dentistry uses advanced fluorescence technology in addition to an oral exam to screen for cancer.  Dr. Melchers and his experienced staff are here to address all your oral health care issues. Contact us today at info@oldmtpleasantdentistry.com to see how we can best meet your dental care needs.