Oral Cancer Screenings in Torrance, CA

The American Cancer Society reports that over 53,000 people were diagnosed with oral cancer. Although the average age of diagnosis is around 62, almost 25 percent of people were diagnosed at ages 50 and above.

Oral cancer screenings near you can help identify signs early and dramatically improves the chances of recovery. In general, oral cancer affects more males than females.

Along with caring for their patients’ oral health, our dentists at Miller Family Dental also concern themselves with their physical health. Many chronic diseases are detectible by the condition of the mouth, including oral cancer. Every time patients go in for routine dental examination, oral cancer screenings are also given to them.

What Is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer can show up anywhere in the mouth and spread to the throat and head. The abnormal cells clump together to form a tumor and often grow to spread to other parts. A dentist near you can easily examine you for signs of oral cancer as they are trained to look for signs.

Some common signs of oral cancer include:

  • A sore or lump on the lips or mouth
  • A reddish or whitish patch on the tongue, gums or lining of the mouth
  • Trouble during chewing or swallowing
  • Swelling in the jaw
  • Unusual pain, swelling or numbness in the mouth

If your dentist notices any of these signs, he or she may suggest further tests or refer you to a specialist. However, please be aware that the above signs can also indicate other health issues other than cancer – only a healthcare provider can provide an accurate diagnosis.

Signs of oral cancer can be detected during routine dental examinations, which is why it’s important to visit your dentist regularly.

What Causes Oral Cancer?

Although it isn’t a gender-specific disease, more men than women get oral cancer. Perhaps it is because of some of the habits that can cause the disease, like:

  • Tobacco use of any kind, including snuff, chewing tobacco, or cigars
  • Heavy drinking
  • A compromised immune system
  • Human Papilloma Virus, HPV, which is a sexually transmitted disease
  • Sun exposure on the lips

Fortunately, if caught early, oral cancer is curable, so our dentists start screening patients from the time they are 18 years old. However, if they know they use tobacco, drink, sunbath, or are sexually active, then they will start screening patients younger than 18.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

Some lifestyle choices may increase the risks of oral cancer, few of them we discussed just above. In many cases, the risks are increased by a family history of oral cancer. Treatment may involve radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, or targeted care. The type of treatment would depend on the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed. Timely oral cancer screening can help increase your chances of recovery and cure.

What are Dentists Looking For?

It’s important to know what dentists are looking for when doing cancer screenings because you can start screening yourself at home. During oral cancer screenings, our dentists will look for:

  • White or red sores in the mouth, around the lips
  • Hard lumps or thickening around the cheeks
  • A persistent sore throat
  • Difficulty with chewing or swallowing
  • A lump or thickness on the neck
  • Persistent mouth pain
  • Changes in voice
  • Bad breath

If the dentist finds a lump or thickened area on the neck or in the mouth, he or she may request a biopsy to confirm their suspicions. However, they are more likely to recommend you to your primary doctor or an oncologist to follow up on your symptoms. Some dentists who specialize in surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, may also treat the disease.

The further along the cancer is, the less chance of survival the patient has, so that’s why our dentists are diligent about doing oral cancer screenings during the biannual check-ups they have with all their patients, male or female, young or old.

Contact Miller Family Dental in Torrance, CA for more information on oral cancer screening. Make an appointment today for a detailed dental exam and cleaning.

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