Oral Cancer Screenings: The Importance Of Early Detection And Prevention

Oral Cancer Screenings: The Importance Of Early Detection And Prevention

Mar 01, 2023

Oral cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the United States. It’s estimated that more than 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, with 7,000 deaths resulting from the disease. Oral cancer can be detected early by regularly visiting your dentist in St. Petersburg, FL. Early detection increases your chance of survival.

What Is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is a malignant tumor that develops in the mouth, tongue, lips, or throat. Oral cancers are the most common cancer in men and women over 50.

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately 48,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer annually. Of those, only about half will survive more than five years. Early detection is crucial to increasing the survival rate for those with oral cancer.

There are several warning signs of oral cancer that you can look out for:

  • A sore or irritation that doesn’t go away after two weeks
  • White or red patches in the mouth
  • A lump or thickening in the cheek
  • Pain or numbness in the mouth or lips
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing

The risk factors for oral cancer include:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Alcohol use (especially when combined with smoking)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be transmitted through sexual contact or saliva-to-saliva contact during deep kissing

It’s important to see Dr. Cecilia Sorelle, DDS, immediately if you notice these signs. She will perform a biopsy to determine whether or not you have cancer.

Why is Early Detection of Oral Cancer Important?

Getting oral cancer screening in St. Petersburg, FL, is important:

  • Stops the spread

Early detection is critical. It means you can get treatment before cancer spreads, which makes it more difficult to treat. It also means you can get treatment before it becomes advanced, which greatly improves your chances of survival.

Oral cancers often begin as small lesions or areas of irritation in the mouth that patients and their doctors often overlook until they’ve become too large or advanced to treat successfully. The earlier a lesion is detected, the better chance we have of curing them with surgery–and even preventing them from becoming life-threatening later.

  • Increases your chance of survival

According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, the survival rate for those who catch oral cancer in its early stages is approximately 83%. However, the survival rate drops significantly when the cancer is detected at a later stage – only about 31% of people diagnosed at this point will survive.

This shows how important early detection can be for surviving cancer. If you have any reason to believe that you may have oral cancer, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. They will be able to perform tests and give you a definite answer.

  • Early detection will help you get a better prognosis and improve your overall outcome.

The earlier you are diagnosed with oral cancer, the better your outcome. When caught early enough, many individuals can be cured without undergoing surgery or radiation therapy.

However, if left untreated and allowed to progress into Stage III or IV disease (more advanced stages), these patients will require more aggressive treatment options such as surgery and radiation therapy, and chemotherapy to control their disease.

How is oral cancer screened and diagnosed?

Most dentists and hygienists are trained to look for early signs of oral cancer during routine teeth cleanings and exams. They will often use a small mirror to look at all areas of the mouth, including the tongue, gums, cheeks, and palate.

An oral surgeon will usually perform a physical exam of the mouth and take a detailed medical history. They may also order tests, such as a biopsy, to confirm a diagnosis.

If you have any symptoms of oral cancer, it’s important to see an oral surgeon as soon as possible. Oral cancer is most successfully treated when it’s caught in the early stages.

Schedule an Appointment

There are many great things about early detection. It can save lives, and it can also improve your overall prognosis. If you’re concerned about oral cancer symptoms or have been diagnosed with the disease, visit Dental Arts Ninth Street – St. Petersburg for assessment.

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