Oral Cancer Screenings Can Save Your Life
When most people think about the dentist, their first thought is teeth cleanings and cavity fillings. However, a dentist is a doctor that specializes in oral health. That means the entire mouth. Beyond our knowledge about teeth, we also have expertise in the anatomy of the entire oral cavity. One of the most vital and potentially life-saving services at Albrecht Family Dentistry in West Bend, Wisconsin, is oral cancer screenings.
The importance of oral cancer screenings
The word cancer can be scary, and that’s because practically every type of cancer has the potential to be deadly; therefore, early detection through screenings is critically important. Finding oral cancer early and treating it before it has advanced can dramatically increase the survival rate and minimize the damage caused by the disease. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, the five-year survival rate of oral cancer that is diagnosed and treated early is 83%. In contrast, it’s 38% for cases of late detection where it has already spread to other areas of the body.
How oral cancer screenings are performed
Oral cancer screenings are quick and non-invasive. The dentist will begin with a visual exam, looking for any patches or spots inside the mouth and under the tongue.
We will also feel for any lumps along the neck and lower face that may not be visible. The process can be completed once a year during a routine dental visit unless you are at high risk for oral cancer, in which case we may recommend more frequent screenings.
What happens if we find something suspicious?
If we identify an area of potential concern, we may proceed with further steps to help with a diagnosis. That may include swabbing the site to test the cells or using a specialized mouth-rinse that will change colors in the appearance of abnormal cells.
It may be necessary to refer patients to a specialist for a biopsy and further diagnostic testing in many cases. All of this will be discussed with the patient when determining the next steps.
Overall, the best thing an individual can do to prevent oral cancers is to reduce risk factors such as tobacco use, sun exposure, and poor oral health.
To schedule an appointment at Albrecht Family Dentistry, please call us at (262) 338-6622.