Regular Oral Cancer Screenings Could Save Your Life
Regular dental exams will not only protect your healthy smile. Routine appointments could also have lifesaving consequences. At your visits, Dr. Isaac Comfortes will conduct oral cancer screenings, looking for the earliest signs of the disease. Mouth sores and inflammation typically turn out to be harmless. Nevertheless, it is important to identify these irregularities, since early diagnosis is the key to beating oral cancer. Patients of all ages should undergo regular cancer screenings. However, if you have a history of cancer, or if you are at a high risk for the disease, it is especially vital that you undergo routine tests. Take this important step to protect your oral and physical health. Contact our office today to schedule a screening.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer impacts thousands of Americans each year. The disease occurs when abnormal growths appears on the soft tissues inside your mouth. As with all cancers, these growths are the result of mutations in cell DNA. While healthy cells would naturally die off, cancerous cells will multiply rapidly. Lesions are most likely to appear on your tongue, lips, and the tissues under your tongue. Though less common, they can also develop on your salivary glands, your gums, the insides of your cheeks, and your hard palate.
Knowing the Signs of Oral Cancer
Oral sores are the most common and noticeable symptoms of oral cancer. These lesions may be white, red, or a mix of the two colors. Everyone develops small canker or cold sores from time to time, and these are not typically cause for concern. However, if you suffer from chronic mouth sores, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Comfortes as soon as possible. Other symptoms of oral cancer include:
- A lump on your neck, gums, jaw, cheek, or tongue
- Persistent sore throat
- Chronic bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Poorly fitting dentures
- Jaw stiffness or discomfort
- Tongue stiffness
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Feeling like there is something stuck in your throat
What to Expect During a Cancer Screening
In most cases, your oral cancer screening will take place at your biannual checkup and dental cleaning. If you have noticed any of the symptoms listed above, you should schedule an additional appointment. To check for oral cancer, Dr. Comfortes will conduct a visual scan of your mouth. He will look for sores and any tissue discoloration. If you wear dentures, you will need to remove the restoration, so Dr. Comfortes can conduct a more complete exam. Should he notice any irregularities, he will refer you to a specialist for examination and biopsy. Experienced lab technicians will test a small tissue sample to see if it is cancerous. Often, these sores turn out to be benign, and Dr. Comfortes can recommend appropriate treatment. If you are diagnosed with cancer, he will assist you with referrals for specialist treatment. Then, he will provide compassionate care in conjunction with the rest of your medical team.
The Importance of Regular Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer can be a life-threatening disease. Nevertheless, with early diagnosis and treatment, many patients can beat oral cancer. Unfortunately, by the time that patients notice the symptoms of the disease, the cancer is often quite advanced. Therefore, you should receive screenings on a routine basis. An experienced practitioner like Dr. Comfortes can identify the symptoms of cancer long before they cause you discomfort. Then you can take early action to beat the disease. Appropriate care can ease your discomfort and protect your smile.
Do You Need a Cancer Screening?
All adults should undergo oral cancer screenings at least twice a year. However, if you are at a high risk for the disease, we suggest more frequent appointments. Tobacco use is the number one risk factor. If you use cigarettes, cigars, pipes, snuff, or even e-cigarettes, you are much more likely to develop oral cancer. Your risks increase in proportion to the frequency and duration with which you use these products. Other risk factors include:
- A personal or family history of cancer
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- A history of alcoholism
- Sun exposure
Schedule an Appointment Today
Do not let serious health conditions catch you unaware. Contact Dr. Comfortes today to schedule a cancer screening. These preventative appointments could save your life.