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What Happens During an Oral Cancer Screening?
It is important to get an oral cancer screening regularly. This is a physical and visual examination of your mouth and the nearby tissues. The goal is to check for issues or signs that might indicate cancer. With a screening, you can have the reassurance that there are no issues that show oral cancer. Keep reading to find out what you can expect.
Why get an oral cancer screening?
Those who drink or smoke are at a higher risk for oral cancer. Older people are also at a higher risk. The screening only takes a couple of minutes and can be added to a routine dental checkup. That is why some dentists recommend this screening every six months. It is a precautionary step. The goal is to catch the cancer before the symptoms can become worse or the cancer spreads.
This is done for precaution, not a diagnosis. If there are any issues caught during this exam, the patient will likely have more tests done. The patient may also have to visit another health care provider. This is more likely if the patient uses alcohol or tobacco.
Just because the dentist notices something that requires more testing does not mean that there is cancer. If there are signs of cancer, the patient should remain hopeful. With an early diagnosis, the spread of cancer can be prevented. The earlier these signs are caught, the better the patient’s chances of survival.
About the screening
The dentist will do a visual exam of the lips, neck, nose, face, and mouth. Any dental appliances, such as dentures, must be removed before the screening begins. That way, the dentist can see the entire area. The dentist looks for ulcerations, swelling, bumps, or odd patches of color. Then a mirror and light will be used to examine the nose and mouth.
With a tongue depressor, the dentist can hold the tongue in place to examine the back of the mouth. The dentist might have the patient say something or swallow so that the dentist can examine that area. Some basic devices can be used for a simpler oral cancer screening. However, a more extensive screening can also be done.
Some types of tools might be used for this detailed screening. For instance, a tool might be used to collect some cells to be analyzed later. This is not a painful process and might be done if the dentist suspects something. The cells can then be sent off to a lab for more testing on them.
Turn to a dentist for an oral cancer screening
It is a good idea for many patients to get an oral cancer screening every now and then. Your dentist can help you to determine how often this should occur for you. If you have more questions about oral cancer screenings, it is good to make an appointment with your dentist. They can answer any concerns you have.
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