The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings
Cancer has become one of the leading causes of death in the world. Even though technology continues to better treatment mechanisms, many people still lose their life to cancer. Oral cancer is one of those types of cancers that have high death cases, majorly because of late diagnosis.
The number one strategy to fight against cancer is an early diagnosis. Unfortunately, with oral cancer, very few people get diagnosed in the early stages. This is because few people regularly visit their dentists, or even consider oral cancer screenings.
What Is Oral Cancer Screening?
It is a type of health examination done to check your body for the presence of any precancerous cells. This test is specific to the oral cavity, to examine for different types of oral cancer.
On multiple occasions, the test is conducted by a dentist, since they have the most frequent access to your mouth. This is done during routine dental visits, particularly if your doctor detects an anomaly in the condition of your mouth. However, other doctors too can screen you for the same, as the goal is to determine the presence of any cancerous signs.
Understanding Oral Cancer
One of the things that make oral cancer a dangerous condition is that there are different types. You may think you have your oral health in control, but not be aware that you may have a different type of oral cancer. The common types include:
- Cancer of the lips – mainly comes due to extreme exposure to UV rays.
- Cancer of the tongue
- Throat cancer
- Cancer of the gums
What Are the Benefits of Dental Cancer Screenings?
The examinations may seem unnecessary, but they are important for such reasons as:
- Early detection of cancer – when cancer is caught early, you have an increased chance of getting cured as opposed to waiting till the later stages.
- To determine risk factors – no one ever asks to get cancer. Some people live and die without ever getting cancer. However, others get it as they age, and others in their early ages. Without screenings, it is impossible to determine your risk levels concerning oral cancer.
- To prevent mouth cancer – a screening session may determine that you are free from cancer. However, it will also be an opportune time for your dentist or doctor to highlight how you can prevent cancer, especially if you are a high-risk patient.
Who Needs an Oral Cancer Examination?
Generally, anyone can benefit from a screening session for cancer. Knowing that you do not have any precancerous cells is good news to help you improve the quality of your life even more. However, people with an increased risk of getting oral cancer are recommended to consider periodical screening sessions. Such include:
- Smokers – tobacco usage does not only impact the health of your lungs. It also increases your risk of getting mouth cancer
- A previous cancer diagnosis – if you have previously been diagnosed with cancer, especially of the mouth, your chances of getting it again are high.
- Genetics – cancer is sometimes hereditary. This means that if there are members of your family that suffer from oral cancer, you are at a high risk of getting it too.
- Heavy drinkers – alcoholism does increase your risk of getting mouth cancer.
- STI patients – the sexually transmitted infection, human papillomavirus (HPV), has been linked to the increasing cases of oral cancer in the world today. It may be as a result of oral sex, but the cause is still unclear.
Should You Get Screened for Mouth Cancer?
Medical experts are still not in accord when it comes to how necessary a regular screening for mouth cancer is. Ideally, the recommendation is to get regular mouth checkups by a dentist. This way, any abnormal eventualities will necessitate the need for a screening exam. However, for high-risk patients, consider regular cancer screenings for your mouth a necessary assessment.
Oral cancer can be cured, just like many types of cancer, only if it is diagnosed early. The only way to achieve this is through screening sessions for your mouth. If you are unsure whether you are a fit candidate for such screening, consult your dentist or doctor.