What to expect during your oral cancer screening
Oral cancer is a type of cancer that affects the tissues of the mouth, which includes the lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, the floor of the mouth, and palate. Oral cancers can also affect the salivary glands and are typically classified as squamous cell or non-squamous cell carcinoma. At Family Dental Choice of Charlotte, North Carolina, patients are advised to have an oral cancer screening at every visit to monitor for signs of development.
What causes oral cancer, and what puts a patient at risk of developing it?
There are several risk factors associated with oral cancer, including
- Age, as it most commonly affects older adults
- Smoking and regular tobacco use
- Heavy alcohol use
- Poor oral hygiene habits
- Frequent UV exposure
- Certain infections
What are the stages of oral cancer?
Ultimately, it is best if oral cancer is caught in the earlier stages for effective treatment. However, if left undiagnosed and untreated, this condition may progress into a more serious problem. There are several stages of oral cancer, including:
- Stage I oral cancer. This typically involves a small, localized tumor that has not spread to other areas of the mouth or throat.
- Stage II oral cancer. At this stage, the tumor may have begun to invade nearby tissues and lymph nodes in the neck.
- Stage III oral cancer. By this stage, the tumor has most likely advanced even further into the surrounding tissue and lymph nodes, and there is also a higher risk of it spreading to distant parts of the body.
- Stage IV oral cancer. This is considered to be the most severe stage of oral cancer and involves tumors that have metastasized significantly throughout various regions of the body. Treatment options at this stage are often limited due to how far along the cancer has progressed.
What are the symptoms of oral cancer?
- Persistent sore throat or pain in the mouth or neck that does not go away
- Unexplained bleeding, lumps, or crusting on the lips or in the mouth
- Red or white patches inside the mouth
- Chronic sores inside the mouth that do not heal within 2-3 weeks
- Difficulty swallowing and changes in voice quality
How do I schedule an oral cancer screening?
Dr. Philip Hahn and his team at Family Dental Choice advised Charlotte, NC, area patients to undergo an oral cancer screening at each appointment. Call (704) 741-1307 to schedule a visit to 16049 Johnston Road, Suite I.