Oral Cancer and why Early Detection is Crucial
Oral cancer is a type of cancer that effects any part of the mouth, including the lips, gums, tongue, inner lining of the cheeks, roof and floor of the mouth, tonsils, and salivary glands. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, about 54,000 Americans were diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Oral cancer can be life-threatening if not detected and treated early. Therefore, awareness, early detection, and prevention are crucial to saving lives.
“Helping you maintain a beautiful smile and a healthy one is what we’re all about at Advanced Smile Care. That is why it is so important to understand oral cancer and how you can prevent it,” said Dr. Tony Thomas, lead dentist at Advanced Smile Care in San Antonio.
Four ways to detect oral cancer
1. Regular dental check-ups
Regular dental check-ups are important to detect any signs of oral cancer. Dentists are trained to look for symptoms of oral cancer such as lumps, sores, or discolored patches in your mouth. We will examine your mouth, tongue, throat, and neck for any abnormalities.
2. Oral cancer screening
An oral cancer screening is a quick and painless exam that your dentist should perform during your regular dental check-up. This exam involves looking for any signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. Your dentist may use a special light or dye to check for any abnormal cells.
You can perform a self-examination at home to detect any early signs of oral cancer. Check your mouth, tongue, and throat for any lumps, sores, or patches that are red, white, or discolored. Also, feel for any lumps or bumps on the outside of your neck.
4. Specialized Testing
If your dentist finds any abnormal cells in your mouth, they may recommend a biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure that involves removing a small piece of tissue from the affected area to be examined under a microscope. Other tests that may be recommended are imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans, may be used to check if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Remember it is important to have good communication with your dentist and healthcare provider about specific tests you may need.
Five steps to prevent oral cancer
1. Quit smoking and tobacco use
Smoking, vaping and tobacco use are the leading causes of oral cancer. Quitting smoking and refraining from tobacco intake can significantly reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.
2. Limit the cocktails
Heavy alcohol consumption can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. Limiting your alcohol intake can help reduce your risk.
3. Eat Right!
Eating a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables can help reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.
4. Protect your lips from the “kiss” of the sun
Exposure to the sun’s UV rays can increase your risk of lip cancer. Use a lip balm with SPF and wear a hat or use an umbrella to protect your lips from the sun.
5. Visit your dentist regularly
Regular dental check-ups and oral cancer screenings can help detect any signs of oral cancer early, when it’s most treatable.
“Those regular visits to your dentist are so important. That is the time when we can see abnormalities in your mouth that you may have never noticed,” said Dr. Thomas.
Oral cancer is a serious disease that affects thousands of people every year. So, it is critically important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer and to take steps to prevent it.
Remember no question is ever silly and early detection is key to making sure oral cancer does not impact you. The Team at Advanced Smile Care is committed to making sure you not only have a beautiful smile, but a healthy smile.