Here’s why everyone should be screened regularly for oral cancer by their family dentist.
Chances are good that if you’ve ever turned to a dentist for a routine checkup, which we hope you have, that they’ve performed an oral cancer screening. Maybe you didn’t even realize that they had screened for oral cancer. If you are in the Perry Hall, MD, area our family dentists Dr. Emma Galvan and Dr. Karl Meek in Nottingham, MD, are always on the lookout for early warning signs of oral cancer. After all, an estimated 54,000 Americans will be diagnosed with this form of cancer this year alone, and getting screened could save lives.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
While anyone can develop oral cancer there are risk factors that can increase your chances of developing oral cancer over your lifetime. These risk factors include:
- Tobacco use
- Excessive or prolonged sun exposure
- Heavy alcohol use
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) diagnosis
We’ve seen a rise in the number of oral cancer cases over the last few years, and this may have something to do with the increase in HPV infection rates, a common sexually transmitted infection. If you have one or more risk factors for oral cancer it’s important that you talk with our Perry Hall, MD, family dentists located in Nottingham, MD, about ways to reduce your risk and also to discuss how often to get screened.
What Oral Cancer Screenings Detect
A simple oral cancer screening allows our dentists and their team to be able to fully inspect and examine the oral cavity and its tissue for any changes that may indicate cancer or precancer. Some of the warning signs that we’re looking for include:
- Red or white patches
- Lumps and bumps
- Ulcers and persistent sores
While a sore or ulcer in the mouth is rarely cancer, if these symptoms persist or recur for several weeks it’s worth it to see your dentist for an evaluation. Should a lesion or bump look suspicious, we may recommend a biopsy to collect a sample of tissue to test for cancer cells.
When was the last time you visited your Perry Hall, MD, family dentists, Dr. Galvan and Dr. Meek, located in Nottingham, MD, for your routine checkup? If it’s been more than six months, then it’s certainly time for a visit. Call Perry Hall Dental Care at (410)-256-4720 for current patients. If you are a new patient you can reach us at (410)-216-5640.