Oral Cancer is nothing to take lightly, although it is a rare occurrence almost 50,000 people in the U.S are diagnosed annually, with it being fatal for 20% of those diagnosed. Despite innovations in surgery and radiation treatment data shows that risk of death correlates directly with the stage at which the cancer is detected.
As a patient ages, dentists will begin to look closely for signs of oral cancer. Signs will begin to present themselves in the tissue of the gums and mouth as cancer develops. But since detecting the cancer early is so important you may want to talk to your dental hygienist if you think you are at increased risk.
Factors that increase the risk of oral cancer are:
- Tobacco use, including but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff.
- Heavy alcohol use.
- A previous diagnosis of oral cancer.
- Men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer compared to women, and men who are over age 50 face the greatest risk.
You and your dentist will decide if additional screenings for oral cancer are right for you based on your risk factors and other variables.
At Asante Dental Centre, all our patients who come in for a new patient exam or a regular checkup get an oral cancer examination. In some cases, we also use VELscope oral mucosal screening to check for deeper lesions. If you and your dentist decide that an oral cancer examination is a good idea there are a number of procedures that can be considered. Your dentist will most likely begin with a physical examination that involves them carefully looking at your mouth for signs of lesions, spots or abnormal cells. Your dentist will also feel your gums and mouth in order to detect any lumps or abnormalities.
Unfortunately there is no way of knowing whether abnormal areas are cancerous or simply abnormal. But if your dentist finds an area that is of particular concern they will ask you to come in for a follow up visit to see if that area has made any changes.
If your dentist notices a negative change, or perhaps finds an area of particular concern, they will recommend a biopsy. By taking a sample of cells they can determine if cancer is present in that area. If cancer is found you will be referred to a doctor who specializes in oral cancer who can better diagnose you and offer you the best available treatments.
The treatment of oral cancer is similar to other cancer treatments. Your doctor will recommend a regiment of chemo therapies, radiations and surgeries. As with all cancer treatments the procedures often do significant damage to the affected areas. In the case of oral cancer, the removal of significant portions of the gums and sometimes teeth maybe necessary in removing cancerous cells.
To protect your health and mouth it is vital that individuals, especially men, over 50 who have used tobacco or alcohol heavily in their life take precautions with their dentist. At Asante Dental, our dentist Vancouver have the experience and tools to make sure you are being properly screened, including taking the time to look for warning signs at routine cleanings.
We have dentistsVancouver including Yaletown dentist offices as well a New Westminster dentist location all of which are capable and willing to sit down with you and discuss your options for the best treatment and prevention options. Please call us with any questions, each patient is unique and it is our mission to ensure that your individual needs are met with individual care.