About Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer is relatively easy to treat when detected early, but its initial symptoms can sometimes be hard to spot with untrained eyes. That’s why we include a complete oral cancer screening as part of every routine checkup. We’ll take a close look at your mouth and the surrounding areas for any suspicious sores or growths, and if we find something that causes concern, we’ll help you get the follow-up care you need right away.
Your Dental Checkup Could Save Your Life
Oral cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer in the world. It causes the deaths of over 9,750 Americans each year, and only slightly more than half of patients who have been diagnosed with the disease will live longer than 5 more years. Fortunately, the chances of survival are greatly improved if the cancer is identified and treated during its earliest stages. That’s why Dr. Hamlett performs an oral cancer screening as part of a dental checkup. If it’s been a while since your last visit, make an appointment today; it could save your life.
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
The signs of oral cancer might be mistaken for those of a toothache or a cold at first. Contact Dr. Hamlett as soon as possible if any of the following symptoms last for several weeks:
- Persistent pain or sores in the mouth that don’t go away
- A lump or thickening in your cheek
- Red and white patches on the gums, tongue, tonsil or lining of the mouth
- A sore throat
- Difficulty with swallowing, chewing, moving the jaw, or moving the tongue
- A numb feeling on the tongue or inside the mouth
- Swollen jaws
- Loosened teeth
- Lump in the neck or voice changes
- Losing weight
- Constant bad breath
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What Does My Dentist Look for During the Screening?
Dr. Hamlett will check your oral cavity and its connected tissues to see if there are any problems. He’ll be specifically looking for asymmetries, swellings, bumps, patches of color, cuts, and other potential signs of larger underlying health issues. In addition to a visual inspection, he’ll also feel for unusual masses and immobility in tissue that normally moves.
If a possible sign of oral cancer is found, you may be referred for further tests. This won’t necessarily mean that you have cancer; it’s simply meant to help you get an accurate diagnosis that will help you avoid larger health problems later.
What Can I Expect During My Screening?
First, Dr. Hamlett will visually inspect your face, neck, lips, inside of your nose and your oral cavity for abnormalities. This might involve using a tongue depressor, a light, and other tools. After that, he’ll perform a physical exam by feeling the head and cheeks, around the jaw, under the chin and inside the oral cavity. You might be asked to swallow or describe the presence of any pain.