How Often Should I Get Checked For Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer screens can be easily incorporated into your regular routine dental exams. It’s best to schedule biannual dental appointments, which allows for enough of a net to catch problems before they become too serious. Some patients may be at a higher risk of developing oral cancer based on factors like family history and nicotine use. For those patients, it’s always an option to request additional screenings. If you have concerns, it’s best to discuss them with your dentist in order to determine how often you should schedule checkups.
What are the symptoms of oral cancer?
There aren’t many overt symptoms in the early stages of oral cancer. In most cases, it manifests as small sores or discolored spots around the mouth, tongue, or gums. However, just because you notice a sore doesn’t necessarily mean it’s oral cancer. Your dentist will be able to recognize anything that may be a serious concern. In more advanced stages, symptoms may be more noticeable, and can include:
- Unexplained pain around the mouth or face
- Persistent sores that don’t seem to heal
- Lumps or swelling in the mouth, neck, or jaw
- Difficulty swallowing or issues with jaw/tongue mobility
How is Oral Cancer Treated?
Compared to other forms of cancer, oral cancer is highly curable. There are’t concrete steps you can take to prevent it entirely, although maintaining good oral health can decrease your personal risk. Depending on the severity of the cancer, there are a variety of treatment options. Medication, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and even surgical operations are all possible methods. Whatever the method, the first step is always diagnosis. Don’t forget to keep up with regular cancer screenings!