ORAL CANCER SCREENING

We offer oral cancer screening as part of your dental exam.  Your dentist and hygienist will screen your mouth for abnormal cancer and growth.  The head and neck are also screened for potential warning signs of tumor growth and cancer.  Early symptoms of oral, head, and neck cancer may be very subtle and may not even be visible.  Your may not even be aware of the early warning signs until the cancer diagnosis is received.  It is our belief here that a dental visit should be a comprehensive and holistic one.

Common symptoms of oral cancer may include:

  • A red lesion on your gums that does not heal
  • A red or white lesion on the side of your tongue that does not heal and is painful
  • A growth in the mouth that has not healed and is getting bigger
  • Foul smelling breath, halitosis, that is getting worse

Common symptoms of head and neck cancer include:

  • When you stick out your tongue, the tongue slides and deviates towards one side
  • Facial and neck asymmetry.  The left and right side of the face respond differently when you smile or frown
  • Deep pain and discomfort in one ear (otalgia)
  • A persistent sore throat that does not go away within 2 weeks
  • Numbness in the face and neck
  • Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
  • A lump or mass in one side of the neck

A history of smoking and tobacco usage is a major risk factor in developing oral, head, and neck cancer.  In a June 2015 study by the Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine, nearly 50% of the deaths caused by cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx in U.S. adults age 35 and older were attributable to cigarette smoking.  Heavy consumption of alcohol may also increase the risk of developing oral cancer.  However, it is important to know there are cases of oral, head, and neck cancer in those who do not partake in smoking, tobacco, or alcoholic products.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET A ORAL CANCER SCREENING?

Your dentist will usually screen your gums, head, and neck for possible warning signs of cancer during your 6 month dental checkup.  Your local dental society may also hold free oral cancer screenings.   The screening is quick and painless, takes only a few minutes, and the benefits of such a screening area are invaluable and may save your life.

If you have any questions about oral cancer screening, your local Bellevue dentist is here to help. Contact us today at (425) 614-1600!

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