According to the American Cancer Society, the incidence and mortality rate of oral cancer are increasing in the United States. Oral cancer also has the worst five-year survival rate among all major forms of cancer. Yet the condition receives little press and often goes unnoticed.
Like other types of cancer, early detection is crucial and may save your life. At Precise Dental of Houston, we offer Oral Cancer Screening in Houston, TX to detect and identify abnormal changes in the mouth. We perform comprehensive oral cancer screening during routine checkups and once a year after that.
Part of the patient evaluation is an oral cancer screening. And the oral cancer screening is very important because there are several things going on nowadays that are increasing the incidents of oral cancer that we’re seeing in our patients.
The oral cancer screening is very simple. A lot of times I do it on the patient and they are not even aware that I am doing it. And I’m really just checking underneath the tongue, the roof of the mouth, the sides of the cheeks. If the patient is a smoker or a heavy consumer of alcoholic beverages or there’s some type of medication that they’re on that we’re concerned about, then we’re probably going to be a little more aggressive about screening them. If that’s the case, then a lot of times the oral cancer screen will involve taking a sample of tissue, sending it for evaluation – but most of the time it’s just a constant thing that we do, and we work as a team with the hygienist.
The hygienist is going to see the patient every six months, every three months potentially depending on their schedule and I’m also going to come in, she’s going to let me know, hey you need to come look at this, and I’m going to come look at it. That’s kind of how we handle it. We also know our patients, we know which ones we need to keep a better eye on because of their habits, why we need to look at them more often. And then the ones that probably don’t fall into that high risk category.
Oral cancer screening is the detection of pre-cancerous and cancerous changes in the oral cavity. Oral cancer screening is completely painless and quick—all you have to do is open your mouth for a few seconds while the doctor checks for problems and shines a light in your mouth. The special light makes abnormal tissue look white and healthy tissue appear darker. Unlike visual examination, oral cancer screening with advanced equipment picks up lesions and cancerous changes that may be invisible to the naked eye.
Experts recommend oral cancer screening once a year during checkups, especially if you smoke or chew tobacco, have used tobacco in the past 10 years, are a heavy drinker, or have been diagnosed with any type of cancer. It also helps to check for symptoms at home and avoid certain habits like excessive sun exposure, smoking, and excessive alcohol intake.
Most people see their dentists more than their doctors, making us your first line of defense against oral cancer. We will be happy to answer your questions, talk about your risk and discuss the benefits of regular oral cancer screening in Houston, TX.