What are the dangers of delaying Oral Cancer Screening?

What are the dangers of delaying Oral Cancer Screening?

Mar 01, 2021

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, around 53,000 Americans suffer from oral cancer annually. Furthermore, the oral cancer death rate in the US is high with one person succumbing to its complications every hour, 24 hours a day. It is reported that oral cancer accounts for about 30 percent of cancer cases in America.

The problem, according to OCF, is not because of a lack of diagnosing tools, but due to late detection. Most people find it unnecessary to have oral cancer screening, especially if they are not at risk. However, delaying oral cancer screening is detrimental to your oral and overall health.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is the uncontrolled growth of malignant cells in the mouth, palate, tongue, cheeks, and gums. It appears as growth or soreness in the mouth that does not clear easily. Mouth cancer can be life-threatening if not diagnosed early.

What are the Dangers of Delayed Screening?

Early detection of cancer is crucial as it increases the chances of having a successful treatment. Delaying screening can cause the cancer cells to spread to other areas and increases morbidity. The absence of early detection also increases the risk of developing a cancer-related disability. This will lessen your chances of survival.

Oral cancer develops in stages and does not have symptoms in the early stages. By the time you develop some signs and symptoms, cancer would be in the advanced stages.

The primary purpose of oral cancer screening is to reduce the mortality rate. It has been observed that 60 percent of people with oral cancer can survive for five years and more But, this survival rate increases when cancer is detected in the early stages.

Who is at Risk of Developing Oral Cancer?

90 percent of oral cancer cases are attributed to tobacco smoking or drinking. People who get second-hand smoke are also at risk. However, other factors increase the risk, such as:

  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Excessive sun exposure, especially on the lips
  • History of cancer
  • Human papilloma virus
  • Weakened immune system
  • Age. It is reported that people above 40 years are more at risk of oral cancer.

It is crucial to visit a dentist near you for an assessment of your risk factors. However, remember that oral cancer can still develop in the absence of these factors.

What Can You Expect During Your Screening?

We perform the screening as part of your routine dental examination procedure. Dr. Heather Morris will conduct a series of tests to examine your mouth, lips, tongue, gums, and palate. Two specific tests are done; visual and physical examination.

  • Visual exams. The dentist uses a light and a mirror to check the inside of the mouth. The focus is to check for swelling, asymmetries, bumps, ulcerations, patches of color, and other abnormalities.
  • Physical exam. This involves touching your face, mouth, and neck to feel for any unusual masses or hard lumps of tissue.

If any suspicious tissues or lumps are detected, the dentist will recommend other tests like a biopsy. The doctor or dentist in Easley, SC, will remove a sample tissue for analysis to check if it is cancerous or not.

How is Oral Cancer Treated?

Treatment largely depends on the stage and location of cancer. The doctor may use one or a combination of treatments to get rid of the cancerous cells. Treatment involves surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Immunotherapy can also be used as a treatment. This uses your immune system to fight cancer. But, this treatment is reserved for people with advanced cancer that does not respond to the other forms of treatments.

Can Oral Cancer Be Prevented?

No prevention method exists for preventing oral cancer, but you can reduce the risk factors. A change in your lifestyle can go a long way in lowering the risk.

  • Stop the use of tobacco, chewing, or smoking.
  • Avoid alcohol or take it in moderation
  • Eat a healthy diet to support your immunity
  • Avoid overexposure to sunlight
  • Visit the dentist regularly for an assessment

Schedule an Appointment

Visit Easley Family Dentistry if you tooth, mouth, and ear pain or have white patches inside your mouth.