Timely Oral Cancer Screening Can Save Lives

Oral cancer all too often may prove fatal if it goes undetected and spreads to other parts of the body. As part of your regular dental check-up, James M. Stein, DMD, will perform an oral cancer screening at his Boston, MA, practice. With regular scans, Dr. Stein can diagnose oral cancer as soon as possible. Then he can refer you to an appropriate specialist when the disease is still in its earliest, most treatable stages.

Fortunately, patients with an early diagnosis typically have a very good outlook. To protect your oral and systemic health, you should schedule exams at least twice a year. If you have a personal or family history of oral cancer, we suggest three or four visits each year.

What Is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer can affect any of the soft tissues in the mouth or throat. Like other forms of cancer, the disease arises when cells start to divide abnormally, leading to growths or lesions. The symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Pain in the mouth, around the ears, or radiating across the face
  • Bad breath
  • Red or white patches on the gums, tongue, insides of the cheeks, the soft palate, or the floor of the mouth
  • Pain when swallowing
  • A chronic cough
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
Fortunately, patients with an early diagnosis typically have a very good outlook. To protect your oral and systemic health, you should schedule exams at least twice a year.

Causes of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can affect anyone, but there are certain factors that can dramatically increase your risk of the disease. These factors include:

  • Advanced age
  • Tobacco or alcohol use
  • Genetics
  • HPV infection
  • Exposure to UV light
  • A compromised immune system

The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of oral cancer. Unfortunately, however, by the time you notice symptoms, oral cancer is often in advanced stages, and may have spread to other parts of the body and be difficult to eradicate.

Because of the aggressive nature of this disease, and because oral cancer is so prevalent, regular cancer screenings are essential.

What to Expect

Image of woman receiving dental examDuring your screening, Dr. Stein will conduct a tactile and visual examination. He will look for inflammation, lesions, and other abnormalities that could indicate cancer. He may also perform a staining test in which he treats soft tissues with a special blue dye (toluidine blue) that often binds to cancerous cells. In this way, the test can reveal otherwise invisible lesions.

If the doctor observes anything unusual, he will order a biopsy. After taking a tissue sample, he will send it to a partner lab for testing. Oral lesions are often harmless, and tests frequently come back negative.

If you do test positive for oral cancer, Dr. Stein will refer you to an oncologist for treatment. He will coordinate with your specialist, providing follow-up care to monitor your oral health. With this collaborative approach, Dr. Stein offers compassionate, comprehensive, and timely care. 

Schedule Your Appointment Today

If you have not received your regular oral cancer screening, contact our office today to schedule this important diagnostic test. Dr. Stein is committed to maintaining not just your oral health but also your general health, and he will utilize every advanced technology at his disposal to detect and eradicate oral cancer in its earliest stages.