Have you had your oral cancer screening? Although often overlooked, it is far more important than you may think. Some people are hesitant to go to the dentist because of fear. Oral cancer screening is also something that not everyone is looking forward to. However, knowing and being prepared for an oral cancer screening exam will help alleviate some of the anxiety.
The first thing to know is that this exam is not painful at all. The screening can be done during a regular visit to your dentist so you do not have to go on a special appointment unless you have a feeling or suspicion that you have the symptoms of oral cancer.
During the oral cancer screening procedure, your dentist will examine your mouth to see if you have any sores, white or red patches on your tongue or cheeks, or any bumps on your tongue. After the visual exam is done, your dentist will feel the tissues around your mouth with his hands, to check for any lumps and unusual things that have not been seen during the visual check-up. Your dentist will be using gloved hands when examining your mouth.
Mouth sores and patches are a common occurrence in many people. Most of these are not really cancerous. But an oral exam cannot really distinguish which sores are cancerous and which are not. That is why in case there is a presence of sores or patches in your mouth, your dentist will require you to do more tests to determine it. This may mean that some of the cells are removed and sent to the laboratory for testing.
There are some tell-tale signs that what you are feeling or experiencing may not be normal. If you are exhibiting any of the following symptoms, visit your doctor as it can be something serious:
Early detection is the best cure. Cancer that is diagnosed later would cause a lot of damage to the body. Most of the times, late detection of cancer means that it has spread out already and there are lower chances of getting a complete cure. When you have a regular screening for oral cancer, your dentist will be able to detect abnormalities during the early stages.