Oral cancer is a disease that can develop in the oral cavity. Oral cancer can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat.
What is oral cancer?
Oral cancer refers to cancer affecting the mouth, lips, or other related structures. It can affect any area of the oral cavity and can be caused by a variety of factors. Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco are risk factors for developing oral and throat cancers. Alcohol abuse also increases a person’s likelihood of developing these conditions due to the heightened levels of carcinogens found in the bloodstream as a result of heavy drinking habits. HPV infections also increase the risk of contracting oral cancers. For some people, the risk may be hereditary if they have a family history of these conditions. When caught early, a case of oral cancer can be treated with noninvasive therapies like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. However, when left untreated, this can cause cancer to grow and spread more aggressively throughout the rest of the body. This can result in serious health complications and even death in extreme cases. That’s why it’s extremely important to seek treatment for these oral health conditions as early as possible. Talk to your dentist about scheduling an oral exam today!
Who is at risk?
Some of the most important risk factors for oral cancer are lifestyle risk factors. Tobacco use is by far the biggest risk factor for oral cancer, and the joint use of tobacco and alcohol is even worse. Other important lifestyle risk factors include exposure to the HPV virus and poor diet. If you smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products, the most important step you can take to avoid oral cancer is to quit using those products altogether. If you notice any potential signs of oral cancer, be sure to see your dentist right away for treatment. Because early detection is critical to effective treatment, it is important to visit the dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
How is oral cancer diagnosed?
An oral cancer screening consists of a visual inspection of the oral cavity and palpation to check for lumps, bumps, or abnormalities. If there are any concerns, the dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon for biopsy testing. A biopsy involves removing a small tissue sample from the abnormal area to test it for cancer. The dentist may also choose to remove a larger tissue sample to test multiple areas of the mouth at the same time. If results do show precancerous cells, the oral surgeon can fill the tooth to prevent further damage.
If the biopsy results are positive, the oral surgeon will determine the next course of action based on the size of cancer and how far it has progressed. Treatment options may include surgical removal of the affected area in the mouth. Other treatment options include radiation, chemotherapy, and/or targeted drug therapy. You should discuss these options thoroughly with your oral surgeon to choose the best treatment plan for you.
How effective is oral cancer screening?
Research suggests that oral cancer screening can be effective in detecting precancerous and cancerous cells in the mouth. Early detection is essential to preventing the spread of cancer, and screening could save your life.
If the condition is found early, your dentist can treat it before it spreads to other areas of your mouth or body. Diagnosing and treating oral cancer in its early stages can also reduce your chances of needing oral surgery or other dental procedures in the future.
If you smoke or use tobacco, you have an increased risk of developing oral cancer. Your dentist may recommend more frequent screenings if you’re at a higher risk.
Talk to your dentist if you are interested in an oral cancer screening for you or your loved ones. The screening doesn’t take long, and it could save your life!
If you want to have oral cancer screening done, call Rosemont Dental in Frederick, MD, at (301) 663-114 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Askari.