An oral cancer exam is a screening done by dentists to detect signs of cancer at its earliest stages. It is usually done during your routine visits to the dentist. Rarely does an individual require some additional tests to determine the extent of the disease. You can also perform the self-screening procedures and immediately inform your dentist in case of any anomalies.
Oral Cancer can be triggered due to the following:
- Patients smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco or snuff are at risk of developing the disease
- Alcohol consumption can also trigger it.
- When a patient is exposed to direct sunlight, they might develop lip cancer which spreads toward the mouth.
Steps to Perform Oral Cancer Screening
It is performed in two steps:
The entire face is checked for misproportions, swelling, or discoloration. Pigmented areas and the regions containing hair, like the scalp and cheeks, are evaluated along with the facial bones. Inflammation of the eye and flow from the lacrimal gland can be signs of a tumor at a later stage, which may or may not be cancerous. A nasal examination is performed using palpation, and the hearing ability of the patient is checked. The areas exposed to the sun are particularly examined as they are at risk of developing cancer cells.
The neck is then examined through gloved fingers across the lymph nodes and under the chin. The insides of the mouth are checked for swollen areas and asymmetrical masses. After this, the thyroid gland is felt to get an idea of any new-formed lumps, and the patient is asked to swallow to confirm the abnormality of the gland.
The color, texture, and symmetry of the lips are estimated, keeping the mouth open and closed. Patients who use tobacco will show signs of white discoloration.
The buccal mucosa is checked with the index and middle fingers and any change in color, hidden lumps, or texture. Next, the patient is asked to stick out their tongue to have a clear view of any limitations in movement or irregularities. The floor of the mouth is the most common place for developing oral cancer. It is carefully examined, and the tonsils are evaluated.
Stages I and II are the early stages of cancer and are treated locally using radiotherapy. For stage I tongue cancer and stage II oral cancers, elective neck dissection to remove lymph nodes is considered an option. If tumors mature, locoregional treatments do not work. An integrated surgery or radiotherapy, with or without chemotherapy, is preferred in these cases.
To find out more about the dental services offered at West Lake Dental Care, call 704-483-1870 or schedule an online consultation. You can also visit us at 298 N. Hwy 16 Suite E, Denver 28037.