Oral Cancer Exams in North Vancouver, BC
When you visit your dentist in North Vancouver every six months, part of your visit involves an examination of your mouth. This allows your dentist to monitor your oral health and keep an eye out for potential issues. This exam includes oral cancer screening to detect oral cancer or precancerous lesions at an early stage to allow for more effective treatment. Other tests may be warranted, depending on your risk factors.
Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms
Some of the common signs of cancer include:
A Sore That Won’t Heal
This is the most common sign of cancer in the mouth. Unfortunately, those who are prone to ulcers or cankers may tend to ignore them. If such a sore persists for more than two weeks, it should be checked by a professional. Treatment is typically quite effective when started early.
Another common sign of cancer in the mouth is persistent pain. This may arise from changes in the cells of your mouth and might indicate a growth within the tissue.
Lump in the Throat
A growth in your mouth or throat that causes a lump can be a sign of cancer. The growth may be painful or not, but either way, see your dentist or doctor to perform an exam on your mouth.
Patches in the mouth may be red or white and may appear on the tongue, gums, tonsils, or lining of the mouth, and could be signs of cancer. If you notice a red or white patch in your mouth that persists for more than a week, consult your dentist or doctor.
Oral cancer can cause changes in the cells lining the esophagus, in turn leading to pain or difficulty swallowing. You may also feel as though something is stuck in your throat.
Some other signs of cancer that you can watch for include loose teeth, bad breath, numbness, and even ear pain. While these are not necessarily indicative of cancer in the oral cavity, your dentist may want to perform a cancer screening depending on your risk factors.
Causes of Oral Cancer
Mouth cancer is the result of mutations in the DNA of the cells in the lips and mouth. They most often begin in the thin, flat cells lining the lips and mouth, called squamous cells. Squamous cell carcinomas are the most frequent of oral cancers.
While it is uncertain what leads to the mutations in these cells, several risk factors have been identified by the Canadian Dental Association, including tobacco use, heavy alcohol use, a weakened immune system, HPD (human papillomavirus, a type of STD), poor diet, and excessive sun exposure to the lips.
Oral Cancer Treatment
Treatment is most effective if signs of cancer are spotted in the early stage. Your dentist in North Vancouver performs cancer screenings and assesses your risk factors to ensure the best chance of catching these warning signs.
Treatment of cancer in the oral cavity depends on the location and the cancer’s stage. Your overall health and preferences are also factors. In most cases, oral cancer will be treated with surgery first, possibly followed by radiation therapy, or radiation and chemotherapy.
As your dentist in North Vancouver, we will be happy to answer all your questions about oral cancer screenings and treatment options.