According to the American Cancer Society, more than 50,000 people are diagnosed with some form of oral cancer each year. Most often, the cancer is detected by a dentist.
What is an Oral Cancer Exam?
Part of a routine dental check-up includes an oral cancer exam and instructions on checking for oral cancer. Dr. Yvonne Szyperski examines patients’ mouths thoroughly for lesions or abnormalities that could be an indicator of oral cancer.
When to Make an Appointment
If you notice any of the following signs, you should make an appointment for an oral cancer screening with your dentist at North Bay Smiles in Petaluma, CA.
- Lumps you can feel with your tongue
- Hard, thick bumps of what feels like tissue
- Bleeding or pain that you cannot explain
- Slightly raised lesions in your mouth or on your tongue that do not go away after a few weeks
During the Exam
The naked eye cannot see all lumps, bumps, lesions, patches, or suspicious-looking areas in your mouth. If Dr. Szyperski sees something that looks suspicious, she will do further diagnostic testing, such as a biopsy. Additional testing provides further insights into abnormal areas and a clearer picture of the potential source of concerning symptoms such as bleeding or pain.
It’s important to remember that, if an area warrants further evaluation, it does not necessarily mean the condition is oral cancer. The Oral Cancer Foundation notes several different conditions that can be mistaken for oral cancers. These include traumatic ulcers, glossitis (tongue inflammation), benign irritational fibroma, and another type of benign tumor: osteoma. It is best not to worry until test results come back. One thing is for certain; the earlier oral cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat, which significantly improves the ability to successfully “cure” it.
The word “cancer” is terrifying; however, you are on the path to a long and healthy life by keeping routine exams at our office. And no routine exam would be complete without a proper oral cancer screening. Schedule your exam today. Call North Bay Smiles at (707) 306-8001.
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