Importance of Detecting Oral Cancer Early
Any form of cancer that is detected within the mouth, on the lips, on the tongue, or in the throat may be defined as oral cancer. As is typically the case with any disease, early detection and early treatment can save lives.
With current research, the causes and symptoms of oral cancer have gained more widespread attention since nearly a quarter of oral cancer victims have no lifestyle risk factors. In other words, at least 25% of oral cancer victims are young, healthy, non-smokers with no prior family history of cancer.
Since it is difficult to impossible to guess which patients are at risk for oral cancer, it is important that all patients be regularly screened for the disease. Regular screening provides dentists with the opportunity to identify suspicious areas in the very earliest stages and then refer patients to an experienced oral surgeon for advanced care.
As a result of extensive training and education regarding the structures of the mouth, head, and neck, an oral surgeon is the specialist who is most equipped to diagnose and treat oral cancers. This high level of knowledge and skill enable the surgeon to differentiate between healthy and diseased tissue. A combination of clinical examination, digital imaging, and/or biopsy will aid in both the assessment and the proposed treatment.
Common early signs of oral cancer include lesions, lumps, or patches of tissue that may be red or white in color. The lesions can typically occur on the roof of the mouth, back of the throat, or inside the cheeks and lips. The back and sides of the tongue, the floor of the mouth, and the lymph nodes in the neck will also be evaluated for clues.
If a lesion is determined to be cancerous, early intervention in the form of conservative oral surgery may be recommended. Research has shown that, when diagnosed and treated early, oral cancer is often curable.
If you are interested in learning more about your options for detecting oral cancer, call Charlottesville Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center at 434-295-0911 for your appointment today.