Atglen Family Dentistry: Providing Oral Cancer Screening in Lancaster County
Oral cancer isn’t talked about very often, even though it’s just as deadly as other types of cancer. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), about 40,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. Unfortunately, many people never get screened for oral cancer despite how treatable it is when caught early.
At Atglen Family Dentistry, we believe optimal health includes regular oral cancer screenings. We offer oral screenings to patients separately or as part of a routine check-up. Call us at 610-593-2818 to learn more about our oral cancer screening services. Remember, oral cancer screenings take only a few minutes but can save lives.
What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
Symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Lumps or bumps in the mouth
- Mouth pain that spreads to the jaw, ears, and neck
- Sore throat or coughing that won’t go away
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, and smiling
- Lymph node swelling and pain
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
Am I at Risk for Oral Cancer?
Risk factors for oral cancer include:
- History of smoking, including smoking marijuana, cigars, pipes, and e-cigarettes
- History of tobacco use
- History of heavy alcohol use
- History of sun exposure without sunscreen
- Poor dental hygiene
- A family history of oral cancer
- Being over age 40
- A compromised immune system
- Previous diagnosis of oral cancer
Scientists have also discovered that certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause oral cancer, especially in the tonsils and tongue. Because of HPV, oral cancer is now more common in people under 40 than in previous decades. Furthermore, HPV’s presence can go undetected for years, making it even more vital to get regular oral cancer screenings.
How Often Should I Get Screened for Oral Cancer?
It’s more imperative than ever to get an oral cancer screening in Lancaster County. As mentioned, oral cancer cases have climbed nationwide. We’ll advise you on how often you should get screened when we see you and review your patient history.
For high-risk patients, we typically recommend a screening every six months. For lower-risk patients under age 40, we generally recommend annual screenings. If you’ve ever tested positive for HPV, we recommend scheduling an oral cancer screening as soon as possible.
What Happens During an Oral Cancer Screening?
An oral screening mainly consists of a visual screening for discolored or abnormal tissue in your mouth. We use a tongue depressor to examine tissues around the tongue. Finally, we feel inside the cheeks with gloved hands to check for lumps or bumps that may raise flags for oral cancer.
We also rely on state-of-the-art technology to scan the mouth, including a fluorescent light and special dyes. This technology can reveal the presence of tissues we can’t see or feel.
In any case, an oral cancer screening at our office is quick, gentle, and non-invasive. It requires no local anesthesia or sedation unless we take a biopsy.
What Happens If You Find Something Suspicious During the Screening?
If we find a potentially cancerous lump or lesion, we take a small biopsy of the tissue using a local anesthetic and send it to a lab. The lab will then determine if the tissue is precancerous or cancerous. While awaiting the biopsy results, we will monitor you closely during follow-up visits to check for other changes in your mouth.
Besides Regular Screenings, What Else Can I Do to Prevent Oral Cancer?
The saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds true for oral cancer. Abstaining from smoking, heavy drinking, and tobacco are all great measures you can take to prevent this disease. We also recommend applying sunscreen to your lips during sun exposure—something many people forget to do.
Further, we suggest performing an oral health self-exam every time you brush your teeth. To examine your mouth, run your tongue along the inside of your mouth, checking for lumps, sores, or shifting teeth. Be sure to look at all the tissues inside your mouth to check for discoloration or rough patches.
Moreover, pay close attention if you have a mouth sore that won’t go away or if you’re experiencing chronic cold-like symptoms. If you notice these types of symptoms, schedule an oral cancer screening right away.
Reach out to our friendly team at 610-593-2818 to learn more about an oral cancer screening at our office. At Atglen Family Dentistry, our woman-owned and operated dental clinic offers excellent oral cancer screenings in Lancaster County along with holistic dental care for the whole family.