Oral Cancer Screening

oral cancer screeningAs is the case with other types of cancer, early detection and treatment are key for oral cancer diagnoses and achieving successful patient outcomes. Unfortunately, no official oral cancer screening protocol exists within our healthcare system in the same way that screening is recommended and scheduled for other types of cancer.  At Aurora Hills Dental, our dentist, Dr. Zalesky strives to fill in the gap in oral cancer screening by providing our patients with oral cancer screenings as a part of every routine dental examination and hygiene appointment. 

What Is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer, sometimes referred to as mouth cancer, is cancer that affects any part of the mouth or oral cavity.  Oral cancer includes cancers of the lips, gums, tongue, cheeks, jaw, the roof of the mouth, or the floor of the mouth.  A broader category of oral cancers, oropharyngeal cancers, also include those that affect parts of the neck, throat, and pharynx. 

Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Signs and symptoms of oral cancer can include:
  • Changes in the texture of the soft tissues inside your mouth
  • Sores that do not heal or go away on their own
  • Spots inside the mouth that are red, white, or white with red speckles
  • Lumps and bumps in the cheeks, face, throat, or neck
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sore throat
  • The feeling of having something caught in the throat
  • Hoarseness or loss of voice
  • Pain in the ear, mouth, face, or throat
  • Bad breath
  • Persistent cough
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
If you experience any of these symptoms or notice any unusual, unexplained changes in or around your oral cavity, we strongly encourage you to schedule an examination with our dentist or your primary care provider. 

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

The following factors could put you at an elevated risk of developing oral cancer:
  • Tobacco use of any kind
  • Heavy alcohol use (including regular use of mouthwash containing alcohol)
  • Significant sun exposure
  • A previous oral cancer diagnosis
If you fall into any of these high-risk categories, we strongly recommend being sure to visit a dentist that always provides oral cancer screenings during their dental examinations. 

How Does a Dentist Screen Patients for Oral Cancer?

An oral cancer screening at the dentist involves both a visual examination and a tactile examination of a patient’s oral cavity, cheeks, lips, lymph nodes, and neck.  During the screening, Dr. Zalesky looks for any unusual changes, textures, lumps, bumps, or sores that could indicate cancerous lesions. 

What If Dr. Zalesky Finds Something During My Oral Cancer Screening?

If Dr. Zalesky detects anything abnormal during your cancer screening, he will first talk with you about his findings and then discuss the next steps that should be taken to determine if the abnormality is actually cancerous or if it is something else.  Typically, the next step would be to collect a tissue sample from the abnormality and run a biopsy. If our dentist finds anything abnormal during your screening, we are always here to answer any questions you might have and help guide you through the process of getting a definitive diagnosis. 

Learn More About Oral Cancer Screening With Our Aurora Dentist

To learn more about oral cancer screening, oral cancer, or the results of your most recent oral cancer screening at Aurora Hills Dental, we welcome you to contact our office today.