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Oral Cancer Screening
When performing the examination of your mouth during your routine dental visit we screen for oral cancer. We check for red or white patches or mouth sores. Using gloved hands, we also feel the tissues in your mouth and examine the neck to check for lumps or other abnormalities. The goal with oral cancer screening is to identify cancer early, when there is a greater chance for a cure.

Oral cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lips, oral cavity, or oropharynx.

Oral cancer may develop in any of the following areas:
  • Lips.
  • Oral cavity:
    - The front two thirds of the tongue.
    - The gingiva (gums).
    - The buccal mucosa (the lining of the inside of the cheeks).
    - The floor (bottom) of the mouth under the tongue.
    - The hard palate (the front of the roof of the mouth).
    - The retromolar trigone (the small area behind the wisdom teeth).
Factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer include:
  • Using tobacco products (includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and smokeless and chewing tobacco).
  • Heavy alcohol use.
  • Chewing betel nuts.
  • Being infected with a certain type of human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Being exposed to sunlight (lip cancer only).
  • Being male.
Historically the death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development.

Oral cancer is particularly dangerous because in its early stages it may not be noticed by the patient, as it can frequently prosper without producing pain or symptoms they might readily recognize, and because it has a high risk of producing second, primary tumors. This means that patients who survive a first encounter with the disease, have up to a 20 times higher risk of developing a second cancer. This heightened risk factor can last for 5 to 10 years after the first occurrence. There are several types of oral cancers, but around 90% are squamous cell carcinomas. It is estimated that approximately $3.2 billion is spent in the United States each year on treatment of head and neck cancers.

See more at: http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org
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