The term oral cancer screening can be frightening to some. It needs to be understood, however, that screening doesn’t mean cancer is there. If we knew about the existence of cancer then a person would be diagnosed and screening would be pointless.
Screening is done to healthy people in a population to detect asymptomatic people with cancer. Thankfully, the vast majority of people turn out to be cancer-free. Here at Embrace Dental in Sparks, NV, we appreciate and value screening and the fact that it gives us a better chance at curing people.
So, what’s the consensus on oral cancer screening? There are guidelines for types of cancers like colorectal and lung cancer, but what about oral cancer? Well, it’s recommended that you visit your dentist twice a year, or every 6 months to be precise.
At your dentist and here at Embrace Dental, we perform an oral cancer screening during these visits. You’re getting screened for cancer twice a year. Every time we don’t report anything back to you means we found nothing suspicious and you can put your mind at ease.
Most diseases in the world have risk factors and oral cancers are not an exception. The primary risk factor leading to oral cancer is smoking. The heavier and longer your tobacco use the higher your risk. A person who has been smoking half a pack of cigarettes per day for 5 years is at a lower risk than someone who’s been smoking 2 packs a day for 15 years.
Alcohol is another prominent oral cancer risk factor. Again, how much you use and how long you’ve been using it for is significant. Cutting back on both of these substances is incredibly beneficial.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has been complicated in the development of cancer in the back of your mouth and larynx. Luckily, we have a vaccine now that is given in 2 or 3 doses to provide immunity against the virus and lower the risk of cancer from it.