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Should You Be Screened for Oral Cancer?
This article is about the dangers of oral cancer, and how to know who should be screened for oral cancer. This article tells the reader about who is at the most risk for developing oral cancer.
It is true that oral cancers may be found through a regular visual examination of the mouth. The dentist will be able to spot potentially cancerous lumps by sight or touch. But this can only be done once the cancer progresses to a certain stage. In this stage the cancer has already had time to grow and worsen, and the sooner the cancer is detected the easier it is to treat. The Vizilite system was made to help identify cancerous and precancerous cells that would not otherwise be found during a normal visual exam. We can see from the photos here: http://south-
There is some debate on whether it is medically necessary for patients to undergo a screening test. Some argue that because data has been inconclusive as to whether or not this procedure gives a significant advantage to the patient, it could be better to wait until the dentist can identify the cancer with a regular visual exam.
But why would you want to take the risk? The data has been so far inconclusive because studies have been focused on the immense level of efficiency that the screenings have, rather than on whether or not it is safe to wait until cancer can be detected visually. It is common knowledge that the earlier a cancer, or any disease for that matter, is detected then the sooner a patient can begin treatment. If treatment is given early, the risk of the cancer metastasizing (spreading to other areas of the body) is decreased significantly. If found at the earliest stages, oral cancer has a high survivability rate. According to the National Cancer Institute, "When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread."
Many people will still wonder if it is necessary for them to undergo screening. Risk of developing oral cancer increases depending on lifestyle choices of the patient. Smoking and smokeless tobacco are the most frequent causes of the disease. If you are a tobacco user it is absolutely necessary to be tested regularly, in order to catch cancers in their earliest stages. Alcohol consumption is also a major risk factor for developing cancer, and the risks can be compounded if you are both a tobacco user and a user of alcohol.
Even if you do not smoke, chew tobacco, or drink you may still be at risk for developing cancer. A less common risk factor for developing oral cancer is a recent hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, or HSCT. But for those of us who do not fall under any of these categories there is still the risk of developing cancer through genealogical factors and exposure to the increasingly common Human Papillomavirus which is more often known as HPV. If you are at risk of developing oral HPV, there is a significant danger of you developing oral cancer. Men are also more likely to develop cancer, especially those older than 40.
The dangers of waiting for cancers to develop into later stages are numerous and devastating. If oral cancer is not treated quickly, potential consequences include removal of the tongue, removal of the lower jaw, and radical neck dissection. If left untreated long enough oral cancers can even be fatal.
You shouldn’t wait until you think you may have cancer to come see Dr. Wells at South Charlotte Dentistry. Cancer screenings are given to patients with no cancer symptoms. If you would like to make an appointment with South Charlotte Dentistry, please click here: http://www.southcharlottedentistry.com/