Oral Cancer Screening

How many people actually look inside your mouth? Your dentist and hygienist are probably the only ones that have the ability to examine the parts of your mouth even you cannot see. That is why your dentist is often the first person to notice if you have a suspicious lesion or growth inside your mouth.

Highlands Ranch dentist Dr. Sarira Martin, DDS, PC takes your health seriously and will perform a life saving oral cancer screening at your routine exam. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential to increase your chances of surviving this particularly deadly cancer. 

According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, one person dies every hour from oral cancer and the death rate is about 50% over five years, a number that has not improved significantly over the last ten years. The survival rate is low – not because it is a particularly difficult cancer to diagnose – but because diagnosis occurs late in most cases.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer often has few symptoms until it is fairly developed, but symptoms can include:

  • Thickening of oral tissue
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A lump
  • Ear pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Feeling of something caught in the throat
  • Vocal hoarseness
  • Numbness
  • Lesion that will not heal

Upon visual examination, looking for any discolored tissue that is white, red, or dark in color is helpful, but sometimes cancerous lesions are subtle. If you have irritation or notice changes in your tissue, calling and scheduling an exam with your dentist will determine the cause.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer 

Oral cancer can affect anyone at any age. However, certain risk factors dramatically increase your risk of developing oral cancer. Those risk factors include:

  • Being male
  • Over forty years old
  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol use
  • Having HPV (human papillomavirus)

Oral cancer in women is on the rise and researchers link it to increased alcohol consumption as well as increased instances of HPV, but tobacco remains the biggest preventable risk factor in oral cancer. 

Diagnosis and Treatment 

If Dr. Sarira Martin, DDS, PC notices a lesion or lump that requires your immediate attention, she will refer you for a biopsy. Treatment for oral cancer includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, nutritional counseling, and dental treatments. The exact treatment for each individual case varies, but often begins with surgery and radiation. 

Because oral cancer surgery can cause disfigurement, reconstructive surgery may also be included in your treatment plan.

The best way to treat oral cancer is to avoid it. By limiting tobacco and alcohol, your chances of developing oral cancer decrease dramatically.

Are You Due for an Appointment? 

If you are due for your next dental exam or if you have an oral lesion that concerns you, please contact our Highlands Ranch, CO dental office to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Sarira Martin, DDS, PC. It could save your life.