Oral cancer screenings offer many benefits to the patient. During a yearly exam, the doctor evaluates the patient's overall oral health. An oral cancer screening can detect many different abnormalities that can be indicative of both cancer and other serious illnesses. Lesions, sores, and abscesses can indicate the potential for diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, and poor digestion that causes stomach acid to find its way back up the esophagus and into the mouth. Oral cancer screenings can provide the dentist with valuable information about other areas of a person's health that may not be apparent at the time.
Early detection, especially where oral cancer is concerned, is critical. The earlier the cancer is detected, the more treatment options are available. The further advanced the cancer is the harder it may be to effectively treat. Early detection allows the patient to seek treatment at a point when the treatment is the most effective. By catching the cancer early, the treatment may involve less invasive procedures during the removal of the cancerous area. It also gives the doctor the opportunity to recommend procedures that can help restore form and function to the mouth once the cancer has been removed.
Oral cancer has many signs and symptoms including slight color change. Many of the symptoms are also associated with other types of disease and health conditions so it is important to monitor them to see if they change or become worse over time. Pain associated with oral cancer can be anywhere in the mouth. It can be near the ear, nose, jawbone, or throat. It can also be more prominent when swallowing or moving the jaw in certain ways. Red, irritated gums that may or may not be swollen are another sign associated with oral cancer. Lesions and sores that do not heal are also indicative of oral cancers, especially those associated with smoking or tobacco use.
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