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
- 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.