Oral Cancer Screening
Regular checkups and professional cleanings are an important part of your oral health. Not only do they help us catch instances of tooth decay and gum disease before they become major problems, but they also allow us to perform an oral cancer screening. An oral cancer screening is a visual and physical exam of the oral cavity and surrounding areas to ensure there are no signs or symptoms of oral cancer.
Why We Perform Oral Cancer Screenings
An oral cancer screening is a precautionary measure. Giri Palani, DDS, FICOI may suggest an oral cancer screening in response to your lifestyle choices, or to reassure you that there are no apparent issues with your oral health.
The main objective of an oral cancer screening is to diagnose or detect any cancerous or precancerous lesions, especially the latter. Detecting cancer in the earliest stages is ideal because it is easier to remove and cure.
People who have a family history of oral cancer are likely to benefit from screening. Other factors that can increase your risk of oral cancer include tobacco use, heavy alcohol use, a previous diagnosis, and a history of significant sun exposure.
If you are interested in an oral cancer screening, be sure to mention it during your routine appointment. In most cases, we will perform one as a part of your comprehensive exam.
The screening procedure is broken up into two parts: a visual and physical exam. During the visual exam, we will take a look at your face, neck, lips, nasal cavity, and oral cavity. Before the exam, we typically ask that you take out all removable dental appliances so that we can get a better look at your mouth.
We usually use a light, mirror, and tongue depressor if necessary. The goal is to find any swellings, asymmetries, bumps, discolorations, ulceration, or any other abnormalities that could be cancerous.
The physical exam usually takes place during or after the visual exam. Giri Palani, DDS, FICOI will feel around the cheeks, head, jaw, and oral cavity for any abnormalities. We may ask you if any physical contact causes discomfort or pain. While symptoms can be painful, a painless swelling can also be an indicator of oral cancer.
After Your Oral Cancer Screening
While all of this may sound scary, it is important to remember that screening is simply a precautionary measure, not diagnostic. If we do not find any abnormalities, you will be able to return at regular intervals. If we do find something concerning, we may schedule a follow-up appointment. If the abnormality is still present at the follow-up, we may schedule a biopsy procedure. During the biopsy, we will remove a small sample of cells for laboratory testing to determine whether or not the abnormality is cancerous. Most screenings come back negative. An oral screening is an excellent way to put your mind at ease. It is also an excellent opportunity to ask any questions or voice any concerns.
Schedule Your Screening Today
If you would like to learn more about your oral health, call (310) 894-8337, and schedule your appointment today!